All The Stars In The Heavens by Adriana Trigiani
|All The Stars In The Heavens by Adriana Trigiani|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A lightly-fictionalised life of the film star Loretta Young which makes for an engaging and informative read. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 456||Date: February 2016|
|Publisher: Simon and Schuster|
|External links: Author's website|
It was 1935 and Loretta Young wanted fame and success in Hollywood. Part of it was being young (just twenty-one) and beautiful but she was also conscious that the money she brought in mattered to her family. She was hungry for love too: her father had left when she was young. Her step-father had done little better and there was a need for a man she could love and look up to. She developed a reputation for falling in love with her leading men: first, it was Spencer Tracy but on the set of The Call of the Wild she fell for Clark Gable - and he for her.
So far, so very much as it happened. It's perhaps not one of the best-known love stories of the golden age of Hollywood, but it was the stuff of gossip if not legend and Adriana Trigiani brings the story to life and makes the people involved so much more than characters on the big screen. It's a delight to watch the maturing of Loretta Young, from ingenue to a woman with responsibilities to people other than herself, to see the way in which her Catholic faith and her loyalty to her family affects, if not informs, all that she does. I expected to dislike Clark Gable: his womanising was the stuff of legend, but his feelings for Loretta were obvious, even if that didn't necessarily mean that he saw any need to be faithful to her. As with the situation on the film set, real-life mean that opportunity was all too readily available.
The part of the story which is fictional is that of Sister Alda Ducci: the nun who doesn't make the grade and is dispatched to be Loretta Young's secretary. No - it's OK - you're not getting into a reworking of The Sound of Music, but Alda does make a lovely foil for the extravagance of Hollywood with her simpler, more pragmatic approach to life. She's a neat reflection too of the obvious morals of the film industry, governed on-screen and off by the Hays Code which would have meant that knowledge of the relationship between Loretta Young and Clark Gable could have ruined both their careers as he was a married man.
I'm not a great reader of the type of book which is often described as an epic and I was at something of a disadvantage with All The Stars In The Heavens as I knew the history, but Trigiani's writing is superb and it was easy to be pulled into the story. I was relieved to realise that she had avoided the sensationalist claim that Clark Gable had raped Loretta Young, a statement made by Linda Lewis in 2015 and which she said her mother-in-law had told her in 1998. It wouldn't have made for anything like such a good story.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For a completely non-fiction look at Hollywood, have a look at Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford by Donald Spoto. For more fiction from the same period, try The Forgotten Lies by Kerry Jamieson. We also have a review of Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani. You might also enjoy Imperfect Solo by Steven Boykey Sidley and Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub. You might also enjoy The Industry of Human Happiness by James Hall about the music industry.
You can read more book reviews or buy All The Stars In The Heavens by Adriana Trigiani at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy All The Stars In The Heavens by Adriana Trigiani at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.