- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 10 hours and 4 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: March 7, 2017
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01MV87B7I
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Hollywood Daughter: A Novel Audible – Unabridged
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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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Hollywood Daughter is a highly entertaining tale about Hollywood in the 1940’s and 1950’s and the impact of both McCarthyism and the Catholic Church on...Read more
The genres for this novel are historical fiction and women's fiction.Read more