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The Hollywood Daughter: A Novel Hardcover – March 7, 2017
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"A vivid portrait of the turbulent times and the heartbreak of real people underneath all the glamour of 1940s Hollywood. Young Jesse Malloy is a compelling guide to the era and her connection to the beautiful Ingrid Bergman forms an integral part of Jesse's search for the truth about her own childhood. Brimming with all the sparkle of old Hollywood and all the heart and honesty of a true coming-of-age story."
--Helen Simonson, New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Before the War
"The Hollywood Daughter comes at a perfect time to remind us of what happens when conspiracy theorists and authoritarians are loosed upon the land...Jessica Malloy is a worthy heroine for our era. Kate Alcott reminds us that the real damage to home and homeland comes from fearmongering and divisive politics."
“The Ingrid Bergman that Alcott creates is more human and flawed than the celebrity we know from the movies…The Hollywood Daughter is at first loaded with nostalgia…But the novel slowly unravels this idealistic image to show the danger of conformity and the overwhelming pressure to do what is expected in a culture where aberration is not tolerated…[The novel] feels particularly resonant today.”
--Kansas City Star
"Kate Alcott crafts an engrossing coming of age tale that cleverly portrays both the seductive glamour and moral hypocrisy of 1940's Hollywood. Told through the eyes of an idealistic young heroine whose own loyalties are divided, the story of Ingrid Bergman's very public rise and fall from grace deftly mirrors the changing female identity of a nation and offers timely reminders on the dangers of censorship, intolerance, and institutionalized sexism."
--Kathleen Tessaro, New York Times bestselling author of The Perfume Collector
"I was swept along by this story; Kate Alcott has crafted a masterpiece with this novel, writing with grace and lyricism about the golden age of Hollywood and a young girl living on the periphery of a glittering world. Alcott manages to keep Ingrid Bergman just ethereal enough to maintain the allure the starlet was known for, while bringing Bergman's human longings to the surface. It is a breathtakingly tender exploration of faith, fame, growing up and letting go."
--Victoria Kelly, author of Mrs. Houdini
"Alcott tells another tremendously appealing story with great skill and insight, extending her reign as a top popular historical novelist.”
“[An] affecting coming of age novel...Alcott effectively uses Bergman’s 1950 fall from grace, seen through Jessica’s eyes... drawing in readers from the start with smooth writing. Her storytelling skillfully taps into Jessica’s black-and-white adolescent worldview and the distance she maintains from others as an adult, making both real—and surprisingly emotional.”
About the Author
KATE ALCOTT is the pseudonym for journalist Patricia O'Brien, who has written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. As Kate Alcott, she is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker, The Daring Ladies of Lowell, and A Touch of Stardust.
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Top Customer Reviews
The memories from that time of a decade earlier suddenly wash over Jesse as she stares at the invitation. She had attended only one other Academy Awards presentation as a young teenager when her idol, Ingrid Bergman, was nominated for lead actress in her role as a nun starring opposite Bing Crosby in The Bells of St Mary’s. Jesse’s father was Ingrid’s press secretary while Jesse was a student at St. Ann’s Academy, the Catholic girls school where the movie was filmed. Because of his Hollywood connections, she grew to know and idolize Ingrid, once considered the ideal of American womanhood. However, Ingrid would go on to become one of Hollywood’s most maligned actresses, and Jesse’s connection to the legendary star would change her life forever.
Jesse lived in Beverly Hills with her devout Catholic mother and her well-to-do father who was prominent in the entertainment industry. This beautifully sensitive coming-of-age novel about a family torn between these two worlds takes place post-World War II at a time when the rest of America is engaged in an era of anti-Semitism and Communist conspiracy theories. Young Jesse, who is at the top of her class at St. Ann’s, must make a heart-wrenching decision when Ingrid is banished from the United States for having an extramarital affair and bearing a baby out of wedlock.
Jesse has always been closer to her father than to her mother. But her father’s colleagues are writers, directors and actors who become ensnared in the paranoia of the period. The family’s relationship frays under the stress brought on by Ingrid’s infamous situation, and tragedy strikes the family as the pressure builds.
The mid-1940s was a time of turmoil in America. The Catholic Church’s authoritarian Legion of Decency held sway over the movie industry, rigorously scrutinizing each new release. It was not uncommon for the Bishop or his emissaries to sit on movie sets, censoring scripts word by word, or determining how long a kiss might last, the proper length of a skirt, or the cut of an actress’s neckline. This practice coincided with the infamous McCarthy era, when all of Hollywood and the free press were under scrutiny from HUAC, the House Un-American Activities Committee, for subversive Communist activities.
After receiving the surprising invitation to the Oscars, Jesse touches base with her closest high school classmate, Kathleen, to decide if she wants to revisit Hollywood and those painful memories after building a new life for herself in New York.
THE HOLLYWOOD DAUGHTER is an illuminating story about a time in America when religion and government intermingled in ways never intended by our Founding Fathers. It is not a diatribe in any way, but it very well could be a cautionary tale of the times, even if author Kate Alcott didn’t intend it to be one.
Reviewed by Roz Shea
Jessica Malloy was a child, daughter of a Hollywood PR man, and Bergman’s agent. Add to that, her family is devoutly Catholic, and the choices made by the actors her father represented were often problematic in a moral sense But, Alcott takes us deeper, as we see Jessica’s understanding of the situation as a child: the uptick in the Red Scare and blacklisting, and her own concerns with her father’s involvement, or lack thereof as their fortunes and futures are inexorably tied to the industry and the questions.
While Bergman caused quite a stir, and her affair and subsequent pregnancy become a liability to Hollywood studios, she is banished, and Jessica’s father, as her agent, loses a formerly powerful star, but one who had a great impact on the young Jessica, encouraging her natural curiosity and standing for choices. Alcott uses these lessons, couched in stories from film sets, tales of wrongly accused and berated individuals, and the rampant McCarthyism that placed fear above fact and thought to tell the story, and cleverly parallels Jessica’s own learning curve with the story and her own family’s secrets, adding depth and perspective to Jessica’s story, giving her plenty to fight for or against. Frustrated and disillusioned, she leaves the West Coast heading for New York, and is divorced from the whole scene until an anonymous invitation to the Oscars gives her the opportunity to dig deeper and come to terms with the questions stil lurking.
While I enjoyed this story, and the details and information were clearly presented, there was a naiveté to Jessica that made her much younger (even for her age) than I expected, even for the time. There was also an importance added to the facts and descriptions that left the emotional components less present, and while I enjoyed Jessica, and could understand her confusion and questions, I never really had that emotional connection to her. What did come forward were multiple lessons about crowd mentality, the power of fear as a tool to control, and the dangers of one man, unchecked, given the ability to redesign the world to his own standards: without actually deigning to answer to, be questioned by, or throttled in any way. A curious connection to present day, presented without actually attempting to approach the current state of affairs, and all the more powerful for it.
I received an eArc copy of the title for the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
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