PLATINUM DOLL by Anne Girard

platinumdoll
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★¾


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.

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.


PLATINUM DOLL is a novel based on actress Jean Harlow’s rise to fame during the Golden Age of Hollywood. In the late 1920s, she goes to California as a teenage bride from the Midwest. The book follows her turbulent marriage to Chuck McGrew, and the struggles she had with her ruthless mother who pushed and pushed an acting career, not always having her best interest at heart.

I enjoy reading about this era, and this book presents an intriguing and well-researched “slice of life” of a promising Golden Age starlet. I liked the author’s portrayal of Jean Harlow – part blonde bombshell, part book nerd – though I wish she would’ve had more of a backbone when it came to her mother. It was fun watching the clips referenced in the book, especially the Laurel & Hardy short “Double Whoopee.” The pacing was slow in spots, but overall it was a “swell” read, as Jean would say.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: MADAME PICASSO by Anne Girard

MadamePicasso
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Released: August 26, 2014
Source: Review copy from the book tour company
Rating: ★★★★


The mesmerizing and untold story of Eva Gouel, the unforgettable woman who stole the heart of the greatest artist of our time.

When Eva Gouel moves to Paris from the countryside, she is full of ambition and dreams of stardom. Though young and inexperienced, she manages to find work as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and it is here that she first catches the attention of Pablo Picasso, a rising star in the art world.

A brilliant but eccentric artist, Picasso sets his sights on Eva, and Eva can’t help but be drawn into his web. But what starts as a torrid affair soon evolves into what will become the first great love of Picasso’s life.

With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the twentieth century.


MADAME PICASSO is an enthralling fictional account of the brief but passionate love affair between Pablo Picasso and his muse, Eva Gouel. I chose to read this book because I’m drawn to novels set in the early 20th century, and the author did a masterful job transporting readers to Paris near the end of the Belle Époque. This was a grand time when art and literature flourished, until World War I dramatically altered the tone of the city.

Very little is known about the real Eva Gouel, an unassuming seamstress at the Moulin Rouge who became Picasso’s infatuation in 1911. I enjoyed Eva’s character in this book. She had great spirit and determination, and she made a huge impact on Picasso, both the man and his art. It was also interesting to see a vulnerable, compassionate side of Picasso portrayed. Eva and Picasso’s love story was bittersweet, and I had tears in my eyes while reading the last couple of chapters.

MADAME PICASSO is an unforgettable story filled with an array of colorful characters – artists, poets, intellectuals – living during that time. I’d definitely recommend this book to art history buffs and historical fiction fans.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the book tour company in exchange for an honest review.