Genre: Adult Historical Ficton
Pub. Date: February 17, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
When Julie Crawford leaves Fort Wayne, Indiana for Hollywood, she never imagines she'll cross paths with Carole Lombard, the dazzling actress from Julie's provincial Midwestern hometown. Although the young woman has dreams of becoming a screenwriter, the only job Julie's able to find is one in the studio publicity office of the notoriously demanding producer David O. Selznick—who is busy burning through directors, writers and money as he begins filming Gone with the Wind. Although tensions run high on the set, Julie finds she can step onto the back lot, take in the smell of smoky gunpowder and the soft rustle of hoop skirts, and feel the magical world ofGone with the Wind come to life. Julie's access to real-life magic comes when Carole Lombard hires her as an assistant and invites her into the glamorous world Carole shares with Clark Gable—who is about to move into movie history as the dashing Rhett Butler. Carole Lombard, happily profane and uninhibited, makes no secret of her relationship with Gable, which poses something of a problem for the studio as Gable is technically still married—and the last thing the film needs is more negative publicity. Julie is there to fend off the overly curious reporters, hoping to prevent details about the affair from slipping out. But she can barely keep up with her blonde employer, let alone control what comes out of Carole's mouth, and--as their friendship grows - soon finds she doesn't want to. Carole, both wise and funny, becomes Julie's model for breaking free of the past. In the ever-widening scope of this story, Julie is given a front-row seat to not one but two of the greatest love affairs of all time: the undeniable on-screen chemistry between Scarlett and Rhett, and off screen, the deepening love between Carole and Clark. Yet beneath the shiny façade, things in Hollywood are never quite what they seem, and Julie must learn to balance career aspirations and her own budding romance with outsized personalities and the overheated drama on set. Vivid, romantic, and filled with Old Hollywood details, A Touch of Stardust will entrance, surprise, and delight."Julie Crawford left everything behind in Fort Wayne, Indiana to make it big in Hollywood. She has to deliver an important message to David O. Selznick, the producer of Gone with the Wind, but gets distracted by the epic burning of Atlanta scene which she witnesses enroute to deliver the message. Selznick is a no-nonese kind of guy and fires her for the delay, but instead of packing her bags to shamefully head back home, she is introduced to a fellow Fort Wayne native, Carole Lombard. Carole Lombard is one of the most famous actresses of the time and is the girlfriend of Gone with the Wind's Rhett Butler, other wise known as Clark Gable. Carole sort of takes Julie under her wings and hires her as her personal assistant. The two become fast friends. Julie also meets the assistant producer, Andy, on set and they start to casually date. Things are starting to come together for Julie, especially now that she is focusing on her dream of becoming a screenwriter. Things on the set of Gone with the Wind are always dramatic as well as problematic, which makes for a bumpy ride. Kate Alcott's A Touch of Stardust depicts Old Hollywood beautifully as well as the production of Gone with the Wind. If you love this time period and are a Scarlett and Rhett fan, you will absolutely love this book.
How could I not root for Julie? She left her judgmental parents behind to pursue her dream of becoming a screenwriter and has to start from the bottom. Thankfully, Carole has saved her from being unemployed and has given her a few important connections. Her friendship with the larger than life Carol Lombard was one of the best aspects of this book. I really didn't know much about Carol prior to A Touch of Stardust, but I loved her in this book. She's spunky, fun, knows what she wants, and is a loyal friend. After reading this book, I wanted to learn more about her life and more importantly, watch her movies!
The character of Clark Gable was also intriguing. I loved learning more about him since I am such a huge fan. The moment I saw him as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, he stole my heart, so I loved that he played a prominent role in A Touch of Stardust. His relationship with Carole Lombard was beautifully told and so tragically romantic. I absolutely loved these two, despite the fact that he was still married when they were together.
I also loved that Julie had a romantic interest in Andy, but that wasn't the main focus of A Touch of Stardust. Julie, of course, wanted a relationship, but she also wanted to be a famous screenwriter. Her traditional parents would never approve of Andy because he is Jewish, which also provides for an interesting sub-plot dealing with anti-Semitism and Andy's family living in Nazi-Berlin.
The setting of Old Hollywood was fantastic in A Touch of Stardust. Alcott really brought it to life as well as the set of such a huge and important movie. I wanted to be lost in Scarlett's Tara and explore the extensive set that Alcott described. I had no idea about the various problems that faced the movie's production; there were many ups and downs! Alcott did a great job depicting all that it took to make it the memorable movie it is today.
So, if you love the magic and allure of Old Hollywood, you must check out A Touch of Stardust this winter. Now excuse me, I'll be off to re-watch Gone with the Wind.