Monday, June 11, 2018

Julie's Review: Another Side of Paradise

Author: Sally Koslow
Series: None
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 352
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A look into one of F Scott Fitzgerald's many loves
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: In 1937 Hollywood, gossip columnist Sheilah Graham’s star is on the rise, while literary wonder boy F. Scott Fitzgerald’s career is slowly drowning in booze. But the once-famous author, desperate to make money penning scripts for the silver screen, is charismatic enough to attract the gorgeous Miss Graham, a woman who exposes the secrets of others while carefully guarding her own. Like Fitzgerald’s hero Jay Gatsby, Graham has meticulously constructed a life far removed from the poverty of her childhood in London’s slums. And like Gatsby, the onetime guttersnipe learned early how to use her charms to become a hardworking success; she is feted and feared by both the movie studios and their luminaries. A notorious drunk famously married to the doomed Zelda, Fitzgerald fell hard for his “Shielah” (he never learned to spell her name), a shrewd yet softhearted woman—both a fool for love and nobody’s fool—who would stay with him and help revive his career until his tragic death three years later. Working from Sheilah’s memoirs, interviews, and letters, Sally Koslow revisits their scandalous love affair and Graham’s dramatic transformation in London, bringing Graham and Fitzgerald gloriously to life with the color, glitter, magic, and passion of 1930s Hollywood.

Review:  While this novel is about the love affair between Sheilah and F. Scott, for me Sheilah's backstory is the most interesting part of the novel. At this time, F. Scott was a washed up writer trying to become a screenwriter in Hollywood but even that isn't going well for him. By the end of this book I took pity on F. Scott Fitzgerald because he really wasn't going to make a huge comeback.

As I said, this story was really about Ms. Graham. It was about how her past shaped her and how her relationship with Scott might have been the first time she was truly in love. He also taught her to believe in herself and with his guidance she educated herself by reading books she had never experienced previously.

I really enjoyed Sheilah and her story. She has reinvented herself for gain and because she had to get out of where she grew up. Ms. Koslow did right by Sheilah by telling her side of the story and giving her a voice.



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