Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Julie's Review: Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures

Summary: The enchanting story of a Midwestern girl who escapes a family tragedy and is remade as a movie star during Hollywood’s golden age. In 1920, Elsa Emerson, the youngest and blondest of three sisters, is born in idyllic Door County, Wisconsin. Her family owns the Cherry County Playhouse, and more than anything, Elsa relishes appearing onstage, where she soaks up the approval of her father and the embrace of the audience. But when tragedy strikes her family, her acting becomes more than a child's game of pretend. While still in her teens, Elsa marries and flees to Los Angeles. There she is discovered by Irving Green, one of the most powerful executives in Hollywood, who refashions her as a serious, exotic brunette and renames her Laura Lamont. Irving becomes Laura’s great love; she becomes an Academy Award­-winning actress—and a genuine movie star. Laura experiences all the glamour and extravagance of the heady pinnacle of stardom in the studio-system era, but ultimately her story is a timeless one of a woman trying to balance career, family, and personal happiness, all while remaining true to herself. Ambitious and richly imagined, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures is as intimate—and as bigger-than-life—as the great films of the golden age of Hollywood. Written with warmth and verve, it confirms Emma Straub’s reputation as one of the most exciting new talents in fiction. ~amazon.com  

Review: Once upon a time I wanted to be a movie actress but life has a way of intervening and well obviously down another path I went. That being said, I still love things that deal with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Ms. Straub definitely delivers those in Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures. I wouldn't say I loved Laura/Elsa but I definitely liked her and felt for her. Hollywood in the 20s wasn't quite as invasive as it is today. Movie stars weren't anything else but just movie stars. Sure there was a form of paparazzi, but not near the levels of them today.

Laura become enamored with the Hollywood lifestyle and the power of being a star. I will say that I thought that she only did one movie that garnered any attention. I thought she'd have more of a long-standing career. What I did like though was that Ms. Straub didn't make her a huge star because it is more realistic to see her slowly fall out of favor.

I almost wish that Laura had moved back to Door County and run her parents theater at one point in the novel. I realize that her life was made in Hollywood but it might have centered her again to continue on with her life. It also seemed like Laura lost who she was when she gave up Elsa. She became this whole new person, when Irving invented Laura Lamont.  I think that Laura has an identity crisis after Irving is gone. She doesn't know how to be Laura without him.

I loved how Laura and Ginger developed a strong female friendship, even after Ginger's career soared over Laura's. I believe in the end that Laura realized it was the stage acting she loved and not the film acting. I also think she realized that her family meant more to her than any career. She was an excellent mother and wife.

I did feel the ending was a bit rushed but I liked the place that Laura ended up. I felt it was fitting for a woman her age. My only real issue was that at times I found it annoying when Laura would refer to herself as Elsa, after she had take on the Laura Lamont persona. Maybe it was to show that she was torn between keeping herself as Elsa and turning into Laura, the movie siren.  

If you like all things old Hollywood, then I definitely think that Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures should find a spot on your TBR pile.

 Final Take: 4/5



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