Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra – #BookReview – #historicalfiction

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra

Book Blurb:

ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—BookPage

Like many before her, Maria Lagana has come to Hollywood to outrun her past. Born in Rome, where every Sunday her father took her to the cinema instead of church, Maria immigrates with her mother to Los Angeles after a childhood transgression leads to her father’s arrest.

Fifteen years later, on the eve of America’s entry into World War II, Maria is an associate producer at Mercury Pictures, trying to keep her personal and professional lives from falling apart. Her mother won’t speak to her. Her boss, a man of many toupees, has been summoned to Washington by congressional investigators. Her boyfriend, a virtuoso Chinese American actor, can’t escape the studio’s narrow typecasting. And the studio itself, Maria’s only home in exile, teeters on the verge of bankruptcy.

Over the coming months, as the bright lights go dark across Los Angeles, Mercury Pictures becomes a nexus of European émigrés: modernist poets trying their luck as B-movie screenwriters, once-celebrated architects becoming scale-model miniaturists, and refugee actors finding work playing the very villains they fled. While the world descends into war, Maria rises through a maze of conflicting politics, divided loyalties, and jockeying ambitions. But when the arrival of a stranger from her father’s past threatens Maria’s carefully constructed facade, she must finally confront her father’s fate—and her own.

Written with intelligence, wit, and an exhilarating sense of possibility, Mercury Pictures Presents spans many moods and tones, from the heartbreaking to the ecstatic. It is a love letter to life’s bit players, a panorama of an era that casts a long shadow over our own, and a tour de force by a novelist whose work The Washington Post calls “a flash in the heavens that makes you look up and believe in miracles.”

His Review:

Pre WWII the movie industry was in a state of flux. Many of the industry leaders were immigrants escaping the turmoil that was Europe. The first world war ended and storm clouds of the second world war were on the horizon. Many immigrants from Italy and Germany went to the Los Angeles area where their lack of understanding or speaking English was not a deterrent to a good-paying job.

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony MarraMercury Pictures was a B-film company making many soon-to-be-forgotten films. Hiring good production people was almost impossible. The individuals in this tome were struggling to make it in the business. The entire cadre of production and actors was contained within a five-mile area of Hollywood. There is a number of main characters who fade in and out of the storyline. Maria Lagana (never given a title because she is a woman) is an “associate producer” who carries the main workload throughout the novel.

The idealism of some of the characters within the government was to control the thinking of the American people. Prior to making a movie, the script was required to be sent to the motion picture censors who had to approve the film before production. Many topics including foreign governments and potential espionage were summarily excluded from production.

I found the book very enlightening on so many levels. Foreigners gravitated to Hollywood because of the motion picture industry. Scripts were written which could have been viewed as subversive so freedom of expression and freedom of speech is curtailed because of the potential for foreign influences. Censorship is rampant.

CE WilliamsMy overall impression was that the material is well researched and written and could be a history lesson. Of course, during those times after WWII our country was paranoid regarding communism and other foreign ideas. The best way to control these ideas at the time was to clamp down on those in the motion picture industry. An interesting lesson in government intervention. 4 stars – CE Williams

Rosepoint Publishing: Four Stars 4 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Italian Fiction Literary Sagas, Historical Literary Fiction
Publisher: Hogarth
ASIN: B09G9V5MJN
Print Length: 430 pages
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Mercury Pictures Presents [Amazon]

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Anthony Marra - authorThe Author: Anthony Marra is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tsar of Love and Techno and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and longlisted for the National Book Award. His new novel, Mercury Pictures Presents, will be published in July 2022.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Enjoy your Sunday

A Home for the Lost by Sharon Maas – #BookReview – Historical Literary Fiction @Bookouture

A Home for the Lost by Sharon Maas

Book Blurb:

A gripping and heartbreaking read, based on the true story of the Jonestown cult, one of the darkest chapters in American history.

A Home for the Lost by Sharon MaasWhen journalist Zoe Quint loses her husband and child in a tragic accident, she returns home to Guyana to heal. But when she hears cries and music floating through the trees, her curiosity compels her to learn more about the Americans who have set up camp in a run-down village nearby. Their leader, Jim Jones, dark eyed and charismatic, claims to be a peaceful man who has promised his followers paradise.

But everything changes when Zoe meets one of his followers, a young woman called Lucy, in a ramshackle grocery store. Lucy grabs Zoe’s arm, raw terror in her eyes, and passes her a note with a phone number, begging her to call her mother in America.

Zoe is determined to help Lucy, but locals warn her to stay away from the camp, and as sirens and gunshots echo through the jungle at nightfall, she knows they are right. But she can’t shake the frightened woman’s face from her mind, and when she discovers that there are young children kept in the camp, she has to act fast.

Zoe’s only route to the lost people is to get close to their leader, Jim Jones. But if she is accepted, will she be able to persuade the frightened followers to risk their lives and embark on a perilous escape under the cover of darkness? And when Jim Jones hears of her plans, could she pay the highest price of all?

His Review:

The sixties were a time of cultural revolution in the United States. Disaffected people fled the country and joined a cult headed by Jim Jones called Jonestown. In the US, schools and cities were burned and cultural divisiveness was rampant. Jonestown in Guyana was where young people could escape and return to the roots of civilization.

A Home for the Lost by Sharon MaasReverend Jones had taken a thousand or more men, women and children to his ‘utopian stronghold” so that they might live the good life. They were to be free from want as they were working together to establish the perfect colony. The problem was that Jim Jones was a megalomaniac who was out of touch with reality. He felt that he was the only man on earth who should be breeding the women of the planet.

Zoe is a freelance investigative reporter who wants to go to Guyana and report on the enclave and the people living there. What she finds is far from the utopia promised! A few of the people control everything and all of the others are peons whose sole function is to grow the food and support the community.

Zoe is assisted by a U.S. Congressman named Ryan. He has been hearing rumors of a very different and frightening encampment in the jungle. He and an entourage are going on behalf of the U.S. Government to investigate the rumors and accusations. Zoe worms her way into the compound to write an honest exposé on the community. Her reputation for honest journalism garners Jones’ trust.

The living conditions are adequate but the society is very rigid and structured. One of the residents begs Zoe to help her escape Jamestown and return with her three children to the U.S. and her family. Zoe’s adventures spread a bright light on a very despotic environment and the mental problems with Jim Jones. The book shows the horrendous results of a planned utopian community gone very wrong.

CE WilliamsThis is a very dark exposé of a footnote in American history in the 1960s. Read the book and weep over the nearly 700 that drink poisoned Kool-Aid to escape this troubled world and join Reverend Jones in a utopian paradise. 4.5 stars – CE Williams

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Women’s Detective Fiction, Historical Literary Fiction
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN: B09VTKKM2V
Print Length: 453 pages
Publication Date: June 23, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Home for the Lost [Amazon]

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Sharon Maas - authorThe Author: Sharon Maas was born into a prominent political family in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1951. She was educated in England, Guyana, and, later, Germany. After leaving school, she worked as a trainee reporter with the Guyana Graphic in Georgetown and later wrote feature articles for the Sunday Chronicle as a staff journalist.

Her first novel, Of Marriageable Age, is set in Guyana and India and was published by HarperCollins in 1999. In 2014 she moved to Bookouture, and now has ten novels under her belt. Her books span continents, cultures, and eras. From the sugar plantations of colonial British Guiana in South America, to the French battlefields of World War Two, to the present-day brothels of Mumbai and the rice-fields and villages of South India, Sharon never runs out of stories for the armchair traveller.

[truncated—please see the author’s page for her full bio]

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint recommended

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis – a #BookReview #literaryfiction #TuesdayBookBlog

“Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother.”

A review by the CE.

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

In nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis’s latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona DavisIt’s 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn’t ask for more out of life—her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she is drawn to Greenwich Village’s new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club—a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women’s rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. But when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she’s forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.

Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she’s wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie’s running begin disappearing from the library’s famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-adverse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage—truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library’s history.

His Review:

This book is a romp through the changing morays of women in America during the early and last decade of the 20th century. The story takes place in the marble confines of the New York Public Library.  The building superintendent, Jack Lyons, and his wife Laura were resident caretakers of the building and as such at the time made their home in the library.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona DavisThe struggle for the right to vote and the development of women as independent members of society was just beginning. Jack sees himself as a writer who will produce a great American novel and thereby produce a good income for his family. Every spare minute of his day not working for the library was spent in that endeavor. Laura is given the position of curator of the Berg Collection of early books by such luminaries as Poe and Whitman, while being expected to raise the children and do all of the chores of keeping their home. Laura wants to write as well.

New York saw a large increase in the population in the second decade of the century; primarily poor and struggling immigrants. Disease was particularly cruel during that time period and wages extremely low. A year at Columbia School of Journalism including books and tuition was $170. Laura receives a scholarship for one term or $85.00. Now in addition to being a curator and family matriarch, she becomes a student. Meanwhile, her husband used any time available to “write” his novel.

The male students were given assignments to review trials or the mayor’s speeches. The females were sent to cover neighborhood conditions. Hardly the same interest in the topics. Laura meets one of the new social workers, Dr. Amelia Parker, a no-nonsense large woman who takes no guff from anyone. She is teaching immigrant women how to care for their children. She takes Laura under her wing and introduces her to the Heterodoxy Club. The group is scorned by society and the topic cannot be written about but is the topic assigned for her master’s thesis.

Her granddaughter Sadie Donovan is hired at the library to do basically the same tasks as her grandmother so many years before, without her grandmother’s yoke of family and husband. Books disappear during both ladies’ tenures and they are suspected of being the thieves. The author skillfully intermingles the two lives drawing parallels nearly a century apart. Both women are fighting the upward battle of emancipation.

CE WilliamsThe dual plots move along smoothly and my interest was held throughout. I became sympathetic to the plight of both of the women and their crass treatment in general during the time period. Success for any woman seemed to require the overcoming of societal morays and prejudices along with reduced pay and increased responsibility. This is a fulfilling novel, well written and paced with empathetic characters and a joy to read.  5 stars CE Williams

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and this is my honest opinion. Highly Recommended.

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Literary Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction
Publisher: Dutton
ISBN: 1524744611
ASIN: B081M7TFWS
Print Length: 365 pages
Publication Date: To be released August 4, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Fiona Davis - authorThe Author: Fiona Davis is the nationally bestselling author of historical novels set in iconic New York City buildings, including THE CHELSEA GIRLS and THE ADDRESS. She began her career in New York City as an actress, working on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down to write fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and she’s based in New York City.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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