Review: “The Trouble with Scarlett” by Martin Turnbull

Book Reviews

Summer, 1936: Gone with the Wind is released by first-time author Margaret Mitchell and becomes an international sensation. Everyone in Hollywood knows that Civil War pictures don’t make a dime, but renegade movie producer David O. Selznick snaps up the movie rights and suddenly the talk around dinner tables and cocktail parties across the country is fixated on just one question: Who will win the role of Scarlett O’Hara?
When aspiring actress Gwendolyn Brick finally gets her hands on the book, it’s like the clouds have parted and the angels are singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Only a genuine southern belle can play Scarlett and didn’t she spend her childhood listening to Mama’s stories of Sherman’s march and all those damned Yankees? After years of slinging cigarettes at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub, Gwendolyn finds a new purpose in life: to become the silver screen’s Scarlett O’Hara. But isn’t that the ambition of every other pretty Hollywood gal with a deep-fried accent? She knows she’s going to have to stand out bigger than a hoop skirt at a Twelve Oaks barbecue.
Marcus Adler finds himself the golden boy of Cosmopolitan Pictures, the vanity production company set up by William Randolph Hearst for his movie star mistress, Marion Davies. He’s written Return to Sender, Davies’ first-ever genuine smash hit and wins a coveted invitation to spend the weekend at Hearst Castle. The kid who got kicked out of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, is now the guest of the richest man in America, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Myrna Loy, Winston Churchill, and Katharine Hepburn. But the trouble with flying high is that you have such a very long way to fall. When Marcus’ Hearst weekend turns into an unmitigated fiasco, Marcus finds himself sinking fast. He realizes he needs a new idea to impress the studios—real big and real soon—when the Garden of Allah hotel gains a new resident. F. Scott Fitzgerald arrives in Hollywood with a $1000-a-week contract at MGM but no idea how to write a screenplay. “Pleased to meetcha,” Marcus tells him. “We need to talk.”
When Selznick gives the nod to MGM’s George Cukor to direct Gone with the Wind, it’s the scoop of the year and falls into the lap of Kathryn Massey, the Hollywood Reporter’s newest columnist. But dare she publish it? All scoops are the exclusive domain of the Hearst papers’ all-powerful, all-knowing, all-bitchy Louella Parsons. Nobody in Hollywood has dared to outscoop Louella before, but isn’t it about time someone did? When Kathryn plunges ahead with her story, Louella retaliates low and dirty. Kathryn’s boss loses his nerve and leaves her dangling like a limp scarecrow in a summer storm. Then the telephone rings. It’s Ida Koverman, Louis B. Mayer’s personal secretary, and she has a proposition she’d like to make.

—Synopsis courtesy of author’s website.


Gone with the Wind, poster from 1939 - featuring the femme fatale red dress.

Review:

“The Trouble with Scarlett” by Martin Turnbull

Decadent. Delicious. Divine.

That sums up my thoughts my thoughts on Martin Turnbull’s scintillating sequel to The Garden on Sunset. Full of wit, drama, humor and heart, readers fall in love with the characters in a dance through the Golden Age of Hollywood, specifically in the months and years leading up to the biggest film of the decade, Gone with the Wind.

"Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day." - Margaret Mitchell, "Gone With the Wind"

Turnbull’s three main characters easily tell the story of this dramatic moment in motion picture history, gracefully dealing with issues like humiliation, rejection, and unrequited love that strike a chord with modern audiences.

Is that a #BaylorProud dress Scarlett O'Hara is wearing in "Gone With The Wind"? #SicEm

The characters are funny and endearing, particularly Marcus himself. I personally enjoyed the screen test of Gwendolyn Brick the best, along with the antics that ensued during her pursuit of the role of Scarlett O’Hara herself.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara getting fitted into her corset in "Gone with the Wind" (1939)

What has won me over with this series is the insight into the film industry’s glory days, and the reimagining of famous legends (i.e. Vivien Leigh’s unexpected on-set appearance during the burning of Atlanta, the termination of George Cukor as director, etc.)

the burning of Atlanta See Behind the Scenes of Gone With the Wind on its 75th Anniversary - LightBox

The novel daringly names names, and delves deeply into the private lives of our favorite stars on the silver screen.

Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, and Olivia de Havilland look over a script for Gone With the Wind

The sexual content of The Trouble with Scarlett was toned down considerably compared to its predecessor, and lets the reader focus more on individual character development instead.

Oh I love this quote and Gone with the Wind. @jeniferpessina We were just talking about this! LOL

The dramatic jumps that occur from the end of one chapter to the beginning of the next one can be a bit confusing when a cliffhanger scene is sometimes ended too soon, and it takes a while to find out what happened after the end of a particular scene. This is sometimes the case when dealing with multiple narrators in alternating chapters, but like in my review of The Garden on Sunset, I still believe a chapter preface of the month/year (i.e. June 1939) would help the reader with following the timeline.

Victor Fleming and Vivien Leigh on the set of Gone with the Wind (1939)

Martin Turnbull is a delightful author to read, and I feel his voice is genuinely captured in the prose of his Garden of Allah novels. His writing contains a precious commodity: in the commercial publishing market where an author’s individual voice is lost in the muddle of multi-million-dollar book deals, (Ahem, I’m talking to you, James Patterson!) Turnbull’s voice rings clear and true. 

Clark Gable as Rhett Butler "Gone With the Wind"

The Trouble with Scarlett is a gem, and a wonderful, rich tale of the bygone days of Tinseltown. Readers will certainly have no “trouble” reaching for the next book in the series, Citizen Hollywood.


Want to read Book One?

Download the The Garden on Sunset for FREE across all e-reader platforms here!

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In accordance with FTC guidelines, the writers and editors of Shylock and Shakespeare and its affiliates receive no material or monetary compensation for reviews posted on this website or any social media platforms. All reviews are posted as personal reflections on said titles, and as such do not necessarily reflect the individual views and opinions of the original authors. 

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Review:”Jane” by April Lindner

Book Reviews, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

 

“Jane” by April Lindner

 

Publication Date: October 11, 2010

Little, Brown & Co., Poppy Imprint

Complimentary Advance Review Copy

Listing Price: $17.99

Ages 15 & up.

Overall Grade: 4 out of 5 stars (****)

 

 

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. 

But there’s a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane’s much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?

An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers. 

Synopsis Courtesy of Amazon.com 

This book had me at “hello.” After glancing at the new Young Adult listings on Amazon.com I was immediately intrigued. A retelling of Jane Eyre? I received an ARC within a few days, and finished the book in under two days, glued as I was to the page.

I haven’t read the original Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte yet, so I was truly interested in how this book would be since I was a fresh reader without the prejudices or bias to the original work.

Jane Moore was an interesting character to watch on her journey from dead-broke college student to a rock musician’s nanny. She was a bit quiet, in that her character didn’t speak her mind too much and I hoped she would gain more confidence and strength than what was “told” on the page instead of shown. I imagine this was partly due to the character constraints of the original novel.

I really liked Thornfield Park and the image of the house and grounds were very distinct and had a moodiness to it that made the reader believe that something wasn’t quite right about it.

Nico Rathburn was a great Byronic character, moody, rich, narcissistic and self-absorbed—the bad guy all of the girls want and his interaction with his daughter was sweet and innocent, similar to the interaction between Mr. Darcy and Georgiana Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

This book kept me glued to the pages, and although the narrative was periodically interrupted with already-outdated pop culture references like the original Conan O’Brien show, its lyrical and eloquent style felt true to the original book’s time period. It truly made me want to rush out and buy the original Jane Eyre, which I believe is a great thing this book can do.

April Lindner is a fresh talent with a knack for interpretation of the classics, and who knows what she might write next? A retelling of Wuthering Heights, maybe?… In any case, April Lindner is a welcome sight in the YA genre that is overflowing with zombie, werewolf, and vampire stories.

 

Watch the book trailer for “Jane” by April Lindner below!

 

 

Note: This book was a complimentary Advanced Review Copy courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Children, Poppy Imprint. Publication Date: October 11, 2010

Revisiting Classics of Childhood: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

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“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses it turning.”
– Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting, Prologue

Tuck Everlasting has long been the one book that has stood out so prominently out of the thousands of stories my mind has absorbed. What makes this small, seemingly simple story so memorable? What is it about the simplistic writing that has me mesmerized year after year as I reread these opening lines?

Magic.

Magic of a wordsmith that has withstood time and captured the essence of summer in this small, unassuming novel. It is set in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains of New York, and includes a mysterious man in a yellow suit, a family with a deadly secret, and a girl named Winnie Foster who decides once and for all to step outside of the gate of her house.

This is the children’s novel, even though it has never gotten the attention it deserved, and is a different story every time it is read. As you age, so does your understanding of this fantastic piece of literature.

I will always have that little safe place in my heart for Jesse Tuck, as he will forever think of the girl who knew his secret and accepted him wholeheartedly. For in Winnie Foster, he found a reason to live.

Forever.

 

Tuck Everlasting was made into a motion picture film in 2002 by Disney.

 

Visit Google Books for an online look at Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.

http://books.google.com/books?id=fDXshLVNVGAC&lpg=PP1&ots=41jExugkFH&dq=tuck%20everlasting&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=&f=false