ABOUT THE BOOK:
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.
The making of Gone With the Wind serves as the backdrop for this charming tale that tells the story of Julie, the (I think) fictional personal assistant of Carole Lombard. With dreams of becoming a screenwriter (Which is hard in general and even harder as a woman), she moves from Indiana to Hollywood, starting as first what one would call a go-fer before meeting Lombard who encourages her to go for her dream of becoming a writer – which she does under contract to MGM. Love is also in the air when she falls for Andy, a Jewish man, which in itself could have been a whole other story given the time period.
The book is good, flows well, and is an easy read. I assumed, due to the cover of the book, that it would be more about Carole Lombard, but it’s mostly about Julie. Carole plays a fantastic supporting role, though, and it was her scenes that were my favourite. And, of course, Clark Gable wasn’t in it enough (now THAT would be a book..). I got really giddy when the story moved to the filming of Gone With the Wind. I’ve loved the movie for many years and I’m a sponge for anything about it. Dialog by Selznick, Vivien, Olivia, ect., was great and something every “Windie” will enjoy. And, fans of old Hollywood will enjoy the name dropping. I kept wondering who we’d see in bars and restaurants next.
Kate Alcott has woven a nice story full of all the romance and glamour you’d expect from Hollywood in the 30s. If I’m honest, I wish the book had been longer so there could have been more character development and more of complex relationship between Julie and Andy. I couldn’t help but think that the book could have been a whole lot more and that it ended too abruptly for my liking. But, that’s because I wanted to know more about the characters and their lives which is a good thing.
*Thank you to Kate Alcott for putting me in contact with Judy at Doubleday who hooked me up with an e-book copy via Netgalley*