The Hollywood Daughter

Narrator: Erin Spencer
Published By: PRHA, Imprint: Random House Audio
Genre: Fiction – Historical
Release Date: March 07, 2017
10 Hours

I voluntarily reviewed a publisher-provided copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker and A Touch of Stardust, comes a Hollywood coming-of-age novel, in which Ingrid Bergman’s affair with Roberto Rossellini forces her biggest fan to reconsider everything she was raised to believe

In 1950, Ingrid Bergman—already a major star after movies like Casablanca and Joan of Arc—has a baby out of wedlock with her Italian lover, film director Roberto Rossellini. Previously held up as an icon of purity, Bergman’s fall shocked her legions of American fans.
    Growing up in Hollywood, Jessica Malloy watches as her PR executive father helps make Ingrid a star at Selznick Studio. Over years of fleeting interactions with the actress, Jesse comes to idolize Ingrid, who she considered not only the epitome of elegance and integrity, but also the picture-perfect mother, an area where her own difficult mom falls short.
    In a heated era of McCarthyism and extreme censorship, Ingrid’s affair sets off an international scandal that robs seventeen-year-old Jesse of her childhood hero. When the stress placed on Jesse’s father begins to reveal hidden truths about the Malloy family, Jesse’s eyes are opened to the complex realities of life—and love.
     Beautifully written and deeply moving, The Hollywood Daughter is an intimate novel of self-discovery that evokes a Hollywood sparkling with glamour and vivid drama.


My Take Oblong Shaped


This is a moving coming-of-age (c-o-a)  tale, filled with tragedy and heartbreak, but not the Edward-leaves-Bella kind. This c-o-a  features issues like McCarthyism, the power the Catholic church wielded in the 1950s,  in the fifties in a diocese led by a ego-driven Bishop.  Set in Hollywood, THE HOLLYWOOD DAUGHTER attempts to look at the complex moral issues faced in the 1940s and 1950s in Hollywood – which is presented as a microcosm of American Society.

The nuns at the St. Anne’s, a private school for girls, are, quite unusually, portrayed as kind and their subservience and eventual release from the habit (the form of dress worn by nuns) presaging .

We start off in the early days of Jessica’s career in NYC and then are given a memory of the entirety of her youth: WWII to 1950, maybe 1951.

An important part of the story is how public adoration turns quickly into defamation in the story of Ingrid Bergman – seen as so pure (her refusal to wear makeup is considered important) but who is then reviled when  when she leaves her husband, Dr. Peter Lindstrom for the Italian director Roberto Rossellini in 1949.  According to

In 1949 she went to Italy to film Stromboli (1950), directed by Roberto Rossellini. She fell in love with him and left her husband, Dr. Peter Lindstrom, and daughter, Pia Lindström. America’s “moral guardians” in the press and the pulpits were outraged.

That there even were morality police who could ruin an actress’ career in the USA is such a turnaround from our current social climate is hard to imagine today.  Films and their stars were seen to be larger than life, they were heroes, and of course, noone more than the beautiful Swedish actress who played a young woman in the resistance in the Spanish Civil War, A nun and then, Joan of Arc. 

And then in the book, Jessica suffers her own fall from grace which gives her insight into what happened to Bergman.

I think the narration was excellent: the narrator was able to subtly age the voice she used for Jessica’s character, and she hit the soft quality of Ingrid Bergman’s voice perfectly.

My issue with the book was how many balls the writer has in the air: McCarthyism, the Catholic Church, Women’s issues, Jessica’s parents’ marriage and her mother’s near fanatical devotion to the church, friendship, boys, movies and celebrity, etc.   I felt it led to too much extraneous information, for example, the mystery of her mother’s life before Hollywood, the mysterious stranger in adult Jessica’s lobby who she is speaking with as the book begins.  I don’t know if it is an attempt to red-herring the read or filler. And, life is full of extraneous information so it could be an attempt at verisimilitude.

All in all, it was a good read: bittersweet, with a palpable tragic foreshadowing. I would probably get it from the library or, possibly, buy it on sale.

Links Blue Horizontal