Thursday, October 15, 2015

Book Review: All The Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani

Pages: 464
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: October 13, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Brava, Valentine
The Shoemaker's Wife, Viola in the Spotlight
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "In this spectacular saga as radiant, thrilling, and beguiling as Hollywood itself, Adriana Trigiani takes us back to Tinsel Town’s golden age—an era as brutal as it was resplendent—and into the complex and glamorous world of a young actress hungry for fame and success. With meticulous, beautiful detail, Trigiani paints a rich, historical landscape of 1930s Los Angeles, where European and American artisans flocked to pursue the ultimate dream: to tell stories on the silver screen.  The movie business is booming in 1935 when twenty-one-year-old Loretta Young meets thirty-four-year-old Clark Gable on the set of The Call of the Wild. Though he’s already married, Gable falls for the stunning and vivacious young actress instantly.  Far from the glittering lights of Hollywood, Sister Alda Ducci has been forced to leave her convent and begin a new journey that leads her to Loretta. Becoming Miss Young’s assistant, the innocent and pious young Alda must navigate the wild terrain of Hollywood with fierce determination and a moral code that derives from her Italian roots. Over the course of decades, she and Loretta encounter scandal and adventure, choose love and passion, and forge an enduring bond of love and loyalty that will be put to the test when they eventually face the greatest obstacle of their lives. Anchored by Trigiani’s masterful storytelling that takes you on a worldwide ride of adventure from Hollywood to the shores of southern Italy, this mesmerizing epic is, at its heart, a luminous tale of the most cherished ties that bind. Brimming with larger-than-life characters both real and fictional—including stars Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy, David Niven, Hattie McDaniel and more—it is it is the unforgettable story of one of cinema’s greatest love affairs during the golden age of American movie making."

It's 1935 and it's the Golden Age of Hollywood. Loretta Young is a young actress living at home with her mother and sisters. She has already been in many successful movies and hires a new assistant named Alda.  Alda has just left the St. Elizabeth's Infant Hospital where she assisted many unwed mothers, but has recently been let go, because the nun in charge felt she wasn't the best fit.  Instead she set her up with a job as Loretta Young's secretary. It's a good fit, because Loretta is known to be a devout Roman Catholic.  Alda's life changes completely as she goes from living a simple life as an almost-nun to living at Loretta's luxurious mansion.  The two women hit it off instantly and Loretta introduces Alda to Hollywood.  Alda helps Loretta navigate the rough seas of Hollywood, the many failed romances with her leading men, and even accompanies her to the far-off set of The Call of the Wild starring the infamous and utterly charming Clark Gable. What happens on set will change both women's lives forever.  Adriana Trigiani's All the Stars in the Heavens is an interesting glimpse into Old Hollywood as well as the star-crossed relationship between Clark Gable and Loretta Young.

I instantly liked the character of Loretta Young in All the Stars in the Heavens. She is a strong woman; in fact, she has dyslexia and has to work much harder than her fellow actors in order to even comprehend her lines.  I loved the honest relationship between her and Alda; I was definitely rooting for both women.  Loretta has been known to fall in love with the leading men in her films and her latest was Spencer Tracy. She ended up cutting it off due to the fact that he was still married.  She's looking for true love and sadly, she falls into her same self-destructive pattern when she meets the irresistible Clark Gable on set of The Call of the Wild.  

Clark Gable was depicted as a womanizer that really couldn't just commit to just one gal in All the Stars in the Heavens.  Loretta knows this about him, but she still succumbs to his charismatic ways. Without giving too much away, what happens on set is something that will change Loretta's life forever.  Also, Alda meets someone on set as well and this man proves to be more than just a fleeting romance.  Although I wanted to absolutely love the romance between Loretta and Clark, I couldn't help but think about the recent news (don't read this article if you don't want spoilers!!) regarding their relationship.  Even though it was just an allegation, it still put a damper on it for me.

I loved how Trigiani portrayed Old Hollywood in All the Stars in the Heavens. There were many famous actors that made cameos and fans of the Golden Age of Hollywood will love revisiting their favorite actors as well as famous sets of beloved movies.  

My major issue with the All the Stars in the Heavens was Trigiani's writing.  At times, she went into great detail about things that I am not sure she needed to. It was as if she wanted to give us so much information that I felt like I was reading a non-fiction book at times.  This slowed down the pace for me tremendously.

All in all, if you enjoy Old Hollywood and you are a fan of Trigiani, check out All the Stars in the Heavens this fall. I think it will inspire readers to have a Loretta Young movie marathon immediately. 



8 comments:

  1. I am familiar with the article you mention but I suspect Trigiani wrote the book before that information was made public. I wish I could "unread" it so I could approach the book with different views!

    I am going to be reading it eventually. I love reading about Old Hollywood so that appeals to me. I'm glad you liked the book though it does have some flaws. Hopefully I'll like it more than Big Stone Gap even if it doesn't measure up to The Shoemaker's Wife. I don't think I've watched any movies with Loretta Young so I'll have to hunt some down. Great review!

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    1. I know!!! That's what I was thinking. That perhaps she wrote it before the new information came out. I couldn't stop thinking about it though as I was reading this book, which is a shame! I loved the Old Hollywood aspect though--that totally made up for it! I think this was better than Big Stone Gap (I wasn't the biggest fan) but I don't think it was as good as Shoemaker's Wife. Can't wait to hear your thoughts! Thanks for visiting.

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  2. Well, your comments about the writing in this one are not encouraging, Christina - ha! I've really enjoyed some of her other novels but have noticed that I've not been as interested in the most recent releases. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts; great review!

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    1. Adriana Trigiani is hit or miss with me sometimes. I loved Lucia, Lucia , Shoemaker and her Valentine series, so I was hoping this was going to be just as good. If you like Old Hollywood, you'll enjoy it. Thanks for visiting, Tara!

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  3. Wow. Yes, I can see why that bit of information would sour the portrayal of the relationship in this one Christina! It definitely would do the same for me. I totally get what you're saying about all the description too, I've read a couple books like that and the pace definitely crawls and I start to skim all the details:) Glad you still enjoyed this overall though!

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    1. Yes! After I read that article, it sort of spoiled things even though I tried to erase it from my mind. Thanks for checking out my review, Jenny!

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  4. That 'recent news' was kind of a disaster for this book, wasn't it?! I mean, the book must have already been completed when the news broke and I have seen people marking this book down on Goodreads because of that - which I don't think is right - clearly states at the beginning of the book that this is a fictitious reimagining of of the characters etc.
    /rant.

    That said, I didn't love this one like I wanted to. I love, love, love Old Hollywood - but I felt the pacing was off throughout the book, descriptions very long-winded at times which slowed down the story too.

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    1. Yes! I saw that on Goodreads as well, Leanna. I definitely didn't mark it down because of that, but it was sort of bad timing for that article to come out right before pub. date. I agree. The pacing was off at times and the descriptions were a little lengthy, but I just LOVE Old Hollywood and Clark Gable, so I gave it 4 stars instead of 3.5. I look forward to your review! Thanks for visiting!

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