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.
Vivid, romantic, and filled with Old Hollywood details, A Touch of Stardust will entrance, surprise, and delight.
"Alcott makes good use of her research to portray the turbulent Gone With the Wind shoot, Lombard's earthy personality and genuine love for the equally no-BS Gable... Julie and Andy's tender but bumpy affair is also nicely depicted... Alcott's canny blend of Hollywood lore and a strong personal story is ultimately effective. Well-crafted commercial fiction displaying intelligence and nuance as Julie ponders Hollywood's dizzying fantasy/reality disconnect." (Kirkus Review)
"Alcott should entrance large audiences with her stellar historical novel... nuanced and substantive... The briskly paced narrative captivates as it lets readers view the creation of silver-screen magic, and it's also a terrific tribute to the industry pioneers." (Booklist)
"How fun is this? Alcott, author of the New York Times best-selling The Dressmaker, has written a big, sprawling novel about the filming of Gone with the Wind, with a side trip to the boiling-over romance between its leading man, Clark Gable, and sunny Carole Lombard." (Library Journal)
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Less than stellar
The narrator for this book nearly killed it for me all by herself, but sometimes you can get past that if the material is good.
This is one of those stories that seems to have a good premise, yet keeps just falling short of grabbing the readers interest. I never really much liked any of the characters as the story meandered around from one implausible lucky break to the next in a slow-paced and rather repetitious manner. I wanted to care, but finally gave up and found myself saying "Yeah, yeah, whatever...let's wrap this up shall we?" I don't know exactly why I finished listening to this book as I lost interest somewhere in the middle--but I did finish. Maybe I was wondering if the end was as boring as the beginning? Yep. It was.
When a very feminine voice attempts to 'play' a masculine character, the results are usually not particularly good. Add a touch of a Bogey-style lilt to the narrative and it's guaranteed to get on the listeners last nerve. This narrator simply couldn't carry off the attempted male voices and there are enough men in this story to drive the listener to distraction. Perhaps the narrator would have been better off simply reading this straight. She has a nice voice...just not enough acting skills for much characterization work.
Nothing. This book sparked nothing.
The insights about "Gone With The Wind" were mildly interesting, but if you really would like to know more about the filming of that movie there are probably better books on that topic.
- Ruth Bain "RueRue"