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I can't say enough about how disappointing I found this book. I recommended it for my book group and led the discussion. As I read, I wanted to hurl the book across the room many times. I knew that Hedy Lamarr was a beautiful, complicated and brilliant woman. That she had escaped from a war torn Europe and possessed a genius mind behind her stunning looks. The first four fifths of the book covered her abusive relationship with her first husband, an inaccurate relationship with her parents (yes, she was close to her father and her mother was cold, but they never went along with her decision to marry her munitions mogul suitor), descriptions of her costumes and jewels, the controversy over her nude scenes and simulated orgasm in her first movie, her escape to America and, finally, finally, her invention of broad spectrum technology for which she received no recognition during her lifetime. The book failed to mention that she tinkered with inventions all during her adult life, that the baby she "adopted" because he was an infant refugee from Europe was really her biological son, or that she died a meth addict because she, like many studio stars of that time, was fed uppers and downers so she could work slave hours for the film moguls. While it listed some of her most famous roles, it failed to even mention her most acclaimed and well-known movie, the one that won several oscars, "Samson and Delilah," which co-starred Victor Mature. In short, here was a woman who yearned to be taken seriously all her life and then was given short shrift by this poorly written novel. I kept going back to the professional critic's reviews and just can't understand why they are favorable. Lamarr's story is so compelling and captivating. What a great book it could have been.
I am only 1/3 of the way through this terribly written novel, which I am reading for my book club. I’ve rarely read such awful, puerile, formulaic writing in a novel! It’s as if the author is a ninth grader who is using a checklist of “How to Write a Novel.” The novel’s subject matter, the fictionalized story of actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr, has promise. The author has destroyed the promise of the story with her unbearable narrative style.
The descriptions are particularly awful. They are overblown and trite. The first person point of view makes the experience even worse for the reader, because no one actually thinks in words like this! Here’s an example: “This in turn opened to an outdoor stage and garden illuminated by hundreds of twinkling lights that changed colors frequently.” Here is another: “Our faces gleamed in the flickering light from two silver candelabra, which bore candles on arms shaped like tree branches. The warm glow cast by this silvery confection made the crystal glasses sparkle brighter and the silverware glint from their many reflective surfaces.” At no point does this author SHOW. She always TELLS. She breaks the cardinal rule of good writing. The entire book, so far, is devoid of atmosphere, mood, voice, and even purpose. And the characterizations are one-dimensional and cookie-cutter: “loving papa,” “judgmental mother,” “plucky ingenue,” “overbearing husband.” How can a book like this even get published?!
I always want to finish every novel my book club chooses, because I really trust our members to make erudite and meaningful choices. But this is a new low in choices, and I am suffering through it! Hedy Lamarr’s story deserves to be told, but not like this! Reading reviews, I see that some say a few of the important aspects of the real Hedy Lamarr’s life are glossed over or omitted. If so, then this won’t be just a badly written novel - it will prove to be an insult and disservice to the real human whose story it purports to tell.
I usually only take time to positively review authors. It's hell to write a book. But this one left me so empty I had to comment. I bought this book expecting to really get into the technical innovations of a woman in the 40s. What a great story I thought. Instead the entire book is about her beauty (she was, truly, and for a long time) and her guilt in getting out of Nazi Austria. The essence of her other fame was covered only at the end of the book, and then mostly in the Author's note (which few people likely read)!
To me, this leave the book not about "the only woman in the room", but a sexist romp through the 30s and 40s that even then was not all that insightful.
This book missed the mark by a lot. It could have been so much more.
Surprisingly I really disliked this book...I purchased it with great anticipation, but in spite of reading it half way through, I was so turned off by the author's excessive use of pretentious phrases I gave up!
Reading this book I kept going back to the facts of her life from other sources - so much could have done with tghis material. Why change what happened to try to improve her image, when there's plenty of material to explore to examine how comlicated a person she was. Adopting a baby supposedly a Jewish refugee from England when it was her own out of wedlock child (at least by most reports)? Stopping her scientific research after the first disapointment, which wasn't the case? "Based on" LaMar's life seems to allow a lot of leeway to write a book that seems unfocused and shallow. A missed opportunity
I did not like this book. Hedy Lamar was such an interesting and complex person, but this novel really sells her short. Perhaps because the author chose to make this a novel rather than a biography, but it felt like a romance - full of angst, guilt, and how she used her beauty to achieve her goals. Sad!
Hedy Lamarr was a fascinating woman, but this author writes more about her stunning looks and effect on audiences with 100 scant pages about her scientific invention. Some of the facts are not even true. Her "adopted" son James has been proven to be her real son. It reads like a movie magazine backstory and not like the documentary it purports to be.
Like others, I found this to be superficial. It read like a romantic novel and reduced Hedy to a one dimensional character. Voila, I invented a serious and important tool out of thin air? No, I expected to have a serious discussion of her talents not some soap opera.
This book was written as if a made for TV soap opera. No, it is NOT a biography, so the writer has license, but so much time was spent describing her dreadful and hastily arranged marriages, so little time on the substance of her remarkable inventions and the impact of their ignoble disregard and the impact of that disregard on the rest of her tragic life. THAT would have been a great story.
So much was left out of what could have been a captivating story about her life. If it was fictionalized, how about more fictionalized information about how she managed her escapes, and less about how beautiful she thought she was.