Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: All the Stars in the Heavens

Summary: Adriana Trigiani, the New York Times bestselling author of the blockbuster epic The Shoemaker's Wife, returns with her biggest and boldest novel yet, a hypnotic tale based on a true story and filled with her signature elements: family ties, artistry, romance, and adventure. Born in the golden age of Hollywood, All the Stars in the Heavens captures the luster, drama, power, and secrets that could only thrive in the studio system—viewed through the lives of an unforgettable cast of players creating magic on the screen and behind the scenes.

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 secretary, 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. -- Harper

It is with my pleasure that I am part of TLC Book Tours' tour for Adriana Trigiani's new novel ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS. I have been anxiously awaiting this book for some time, and it seems appropriate that her latest story is about movie stars and the golden age of Hollywood given that she recently released her first feature film Big Stone Gap.

ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS is a fictional account of Loretta Young and Clark Gable's love affair. The two met in 1935 when a 21 year old Loretta Young met an older (and married) Clark Gable on the set of The Call of the Wild. The cast and crew of The Call of the Wild were on location for the shoot, and the Loretta and Clark's flirtation escalated quickly into a full-blown romance.

Meanwhile, Alda Ducci is asked to leave the convent where she's in preparation to become a nun. Despite leading a rather sheltered life, growing up in Italy and then entering a convent, Alda now finds herself in Los Angeles working as Loretta's personal secretary. Alda attempts to keep Loretta, who has tendency of falling for her leading men, out of trouble while also discovering love for herself with a set painter.

When Loretta finds herself facing a serious scandal that could potentially ruin her career, she realizes that she needs Alda more than ever. Alda tries to protect Loretta by keeping her private life separate from her very public one, and together they from a special bond that exists for the rest of their lives.

I absolutely loved ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS! Adriana has done it again -- although that's no surprise to those of us who are fans of her novels. This novel and the story are larger-than-life (just like Adriana!), and I loved seeing how Adriana blended fact with fiction to make a terrific story.

I should probably preface this review by saying that I knew next to nothing about Loretta Young.  Basically, I knew her name and that she was an actress during the golden age of Hollywood but that was pretty much it. I had no idea that she was such a famous actress, and I was even more clueless about her possible love affair with Clark Gable. When I read books based on real people, I tend to do a little research on my own; and in the case of Loretta Young and Clark Gable, I couldn't believe what I "discovered!" Now, I'm not going to say much more about this because I don't want to give away what happens in ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS if you are like me and don't know the background!

Suffice it to say that I was impressed with Adriana's portrayal of their love story. She did a wonderful job of incorporating the factual evidence with her fictionalized account, and together the stories blended into a special novel. I absolutely loved how she brought 1930s Hollywood and its characters to life, and I was impressed with the amount of detail about movie making and the practices of the studios.

Make no mistake about it, ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS is a chunkster. The book is almost 450 pages, and I tend to shy away from books over 350 pages. However, this novel was so good that I didn't mind its length. And that's because Adriana is a gifted storyteller... and because sometimes truth is stranger than fiction! Adriana picked some fascinating characters and a pretty special story to tell, and then she wove everything together to make an compelling story.

However, this book is so much more special than just the story of Loretta and Clark's love affair and the fall-out. This story is beautiful! Adriana's writing just keeps getting better and better, and I could tell that this book was especially close to her heart (although I suspect I say that about every project Adriana works on!) Adriana is known for her gorgeous descriptions of... just about everything, and the prose in ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS was no exception. I could vividly picture the scenery, the houses, the costumes, the sets, and more; and I do believe that her writing brought this story to the next level.

Another very special thing about ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS was the side story of Alda. I adored Alda and I do think Adriana's writing skills really shined through with her story. Alda was wonderful character and much more complex than I was initially expecting. I appreciated how Adriana used Alma to incorporate her love of Italy and its culture into the story, and Alma definitely made the book that much better with her background story and life lessons.

And finally, I found so many feel-good messages in this novel. Adriana is known for writing stories about strong women, and ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS definitely had two very strong female characters. Despite having little in common, Alma and Loretta forged a friendship that lasted a life-time. I appreciated their loyalty to each other as well as the ends they were willing to go to protect those they love.

It's no surprise that ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS would make a wonderful book club selection. All of Adriana's books are perfect for book clubs! I wasn't able to find a reading guide at this time, but I'm certain that there will be one available in the very near future. Some of the major themes you might want to explore include loss, second chances, friendship, loyalty, secrets, sacrifice, marriage, and love. It would also be interesting to discuss how much things have changed for women through the years.

I adored ALL THE STARS IN THE HEAVENS and highly recommend it to fans of historical and women's fiction!

Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. Her books include the New York Timesbestseller The Shoemaker's Wife; the Big Stone Gap series; Very Valentine; Brava, Valentine; Lucia, Lucia; and the bestselling memoir Don't Sing at the Table, as well as the young adult novels Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight. She wrote the screenplay for Big Stone Gap, which she also directed. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Visit Adriana at her website: www.adrianatrigiani.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and TLC Book Tours.

Purchase Links

Tuesday, October 13th: Books Like Breathing
Wednesday, October 14th: Time 2 Read
Thursday, October 15th: Kritters Ramblings
Friday, October 16th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, October 19th: A Literary Vacation
Tuesday, October 20th: View from a Birdhouse
Wednesday, October 21st: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, October 22nd: Walking With Nora
Friday, October 23rd: BermudaOnion’s Weblog
Monday, October 26th: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, October 27th: Booking Mama
Wednesday, October 28th: Curling Up by the Fire
Thursday, October 29th: Jen’s Book Thoughts
Monday, November 2nd: Kahakai Kitchen
Tuesday, November 3rd: Books on the Table
Thursday, November 5th: I’m Shelf-ish
Thursday, November 5th: Beth Fish Reads
Friday, November 6th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Monday, November 9th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, November 10th: Drey’s Library
Thursday, November 13th: Book Journey
Friday, November 13th: Write Meg


bermudaonion said...

You know I'm usually not a fan of historical fiction but I loved this book! Trigiani sure knows how to write!!

trish said...

Wow! I can't wait to get to this one! I, too, know very little about Loretta Young, other than she was an actress, and I also like to do research on real life happenings if a book is based on facts. I'm going to hold off on researching Loretta Young until I'm reading the book!

Thanks for being on the tour!

Kim@Time2Read said...

I loved this one, too! I also knew little to nothing about Loretta Young, and nothing at all about her affair with Clark Gable. This one certainly didn't feel like a chunkster!

Beth F said...

Adriana has done it again!