Review: Marlene: A Novel by C.W. Gortner

C.W. Gortner has been putting out some great reads this last year or so!

Gortner always does a fantastic job at profiling historical female figures…..most of which are famous queens etc but lately he’s been branching out to historical pop culture icons like Coco Chanel and now Marlene Dietrich.

I was really intrigued by this novel because I don’t know much about Marlene Dietrich and with Gortner’s fantastic story telling abilities, I was really excited to read this one!

Maria Magdalena Dietrich dreams of a life on the stage. When a budding career as a violinist is cut short, the willful teenager vows to become a singer, trading her family’s proper, middle-class society for the free-spirited, louche world of Weimar Berlin’s cabarets and drag balls.

With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, seductive silk cocktail dresses, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene performs to packed houses and becomes entangled in a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention.

As Hitler and the Nazis rise to power, she sets sail for America and she quickly becomes one of Hollywood’s leading ladies. After the war, Marlene is escorted by General George Patton himself back to Germany, she is heartbroken by the war’s devastation. This book chronicles her life and legacy and all its splendor.

The first thing that comes to mind as I read this book is…..what’s fact and what’s fiction? This book is marketed as a historical fiction novel but I had a hard time separating what was fact and what was fiction. Part of me doesn’t mind this sort of structure as the book didn’t read like a biography or memoir but at the same time it was hard for me to know how much of the story was fictional versus factual.

However I guess an argument could be made that this book is so well written and researched that fact and fiction seamlessly blend together. At any rate, while I was distracted at time about the fact versus fiction bit, it didn’t necessarily turn me off from the story. I loved reading about a women that I basically know nothing about. All I know is the famous name and that’s about it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of her movies either. So reading this story made her seem more like a real person to me.

There was so much attention to detail in the story, not just with Marlene’s life but her little character traits were so detailed which made her seem so much more real in this book. Gortner has an uncanny ability to portray women in such a ‘real’ fashion….it’s really an art form! I love how he brings her character to life in this book.

My only issue with the book was the story wrapped up a little too quick for me. It ends basically when she returns from Germany back to Hollywood and though it ends on a good note I just felt like there was more to be told in some ways.

This book (as with most of Gortner’s books) is very readable and engaging. If you enjoy reading about unique women not only in history but also in pop culture, I highly recommend picking up one of his books. Not to mention he always has magnificent cover designs that just make me want to read the story more! This book is no exception, even if you don’t care about Hollywood….this is more than a book about another Hollywood starlit…..this is a book about a woman’s journey!

Please check out other stops on the tour for author interviews, giveaways, and guest posts as well as a number of other reviews! The schedule is listed below!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Marlene: A Novel by C.W. Gortner

  • ebook, 416 pages
    Published May 24th 2016 by William Morrow
    ISBN 0062406086 (ISBN13: 9780062406088)

    sher as part of the HFVBT book tour in exchange for an honest review

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 4 out of 5

Genre: Historic fiction

Memorable lines/quotes: NA

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, May 24
Review at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, May 25
Review at Broken Teepee

Thursday, May 26
Review at To Read, or Not to Read

Friday, May 27
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 30
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Interview at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, May 31
Review at Creating Herstory

Wednesday, June 1
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Review at Books Without Any Pictures

Thursday, June 2
Interview at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Friday, June 3
Review at Just One More Chapter

Sunday, June 5
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, June 6
Review at Girls Just Reading

Tuesday, June 7
Review at The Lit Bitch

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