Meticulous, beautiful work of historical fiction

Marlene: A Novel - C.W. Gortner

I have been a fan of C.W. Gortner's meticulous historical fiction since reading "The Queen's Vow" a few years ago. With this book, Gortner has left the world of the Spanish royal family and entered war-torn Germany for a look at one of Hollywood's most glamorous leading ladies.

 

We start with a very young Marlene Dietrich, attending private school and taking violin lessons ... and discovering her sexual orientation is not quite what she expected it to be. Throughout the book, Dietrich's relationships with men and women alike are examined through thoughtful eyes.

 

As Marlene gets a little older, we see her becoming a film star at a very young age ... and finding the challenges of working in both Germany and Hollywood. Dietrich's well-known anti-Nazi sentiment is shown in depth, with a clear understanding of how she came to dislike the country where she grew up as it changed radically under Hitler's regime.

 

Gortner never fails to do his homework, which results in pages full of rich historical detail and well-developed characters. In this book, every person mentioned actually existed; the details were gleaned from correspondence, biographies, and more.

 

Gortner really hits it out of the park with this one.