Publisher Website - Mira/Harlequin
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**
Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, novelist Anne Girard tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.Classic Hollywood has always fascinated me. The studio system, and the way that the stars seemed larger than life have always held an undefinable allure. Jean Harlow, one of it's brightest stars, was not well known to me when I picked up Platinum Doll but she had always fascinated me and I wanted to know more about her. This novel examines a specific time in her life, one that showcases her charm, and makes her story a universal one at it's core.
It's the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She's chasing a dream;to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights.In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want;a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends;except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition :to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she's thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth;that fame comes at a price, if only she's willing to pay it. Amid a glittering cast of ingenues and Hollywood titans: Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes, Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.
The magic of this novel is that it captures Classic Hollywood and the 1920s perfectly. While there may be some romanticizing on my part, that era feels like it does hold a little bit of magic. There is a decadence to everything and that shines through the writing in this particular novel. It makes you long to be able to transport yourself, even for just a little while, to experience it for yourself. This novel succeeds because it makes you feel a little of that Hollywood magic as you fall into Harlean's story.
Harlean, who would become Jean Harlow, is portrayed as young woman finding her voice. Following her journey during those formative years between the age of 16 until her early 20s, we see her transformation from a timid but driven girl into someone who demands her voice be heard. Her bond with her mother is the central focus on this novel. Their relationship is often frustrating as you see how the bonds of love allow Harlean to be taken advantage of time and time again. This story of a young woman being thrust into the spotlight as she tries to find her own footing will resonate simply because we all go through that period where we define ourselves for ourselves instead of for those around us. This really is a story of a girl growing up in so many ways and that is something everyone experiences.
This hits so many of the right notes for me - Classic Hollywood, family drama, an intriguing main character. It does, however, have an all too familiar feel to it. It could be the story of any pretty, blonde actress in the 1920s into the 1930s trying to make her way in Hollywood. There is nothing that sets is apart from other similar novels. It offers a well written, fun read, but perhaps one that doesn't leave a lingering impression on the reader once the final page is turned.
A worthy read more for the writing within the pages than the story itself. The story, while enjoyable, is instantly familiar, but offers a sympathetic, and uplifting look at a young starlet learning to make her own decisions. Those who love the golden age of Hollywood will not want to miss this one.