A Touch of Stardust
About This Book
When Julie Crawford leaves Fort Wayne, Indiana, for Hollywood, she never imagines she’ll cross paths with Carole Lombard, the dazzling actress from Julie’s provincial Midwestern hometown. The young woman has dreams of becoming a screenwriter, but the only job Julie’s able to find is one in the studio publicity office of the notoriously demanding producer David O. Selznick, who is busy burning through directors, writers, and money as he films Gone with the Wind.
Although tensions run high on the set, Julie finds she can step onto the back lot, take in the smell of smoky gunpowder and the soft rustle of hoop skirts, and feel the magical world of Gone with the Wind come to life. Julie’s access to real-life magic comes when Carole Lombard hires her as an assistant and invites her into the glamorous world Carole shares with Clark Gable, who is about to move into movie history as the dashing Rhett Butler.
Carole Lombard, happily profane and uninhibited, makes no secret of her relationship with Gable, which poses something of a problem for the studio because Gable is technically still married—and the last thing the film needs is more negative publicity. Julie is there to fend off the overly curious reporters, hoping to prevent details about the affair from slipping out. But she can barely keep up with her blond employer, let alone control what comes out of Carole’s mouth, and—as their friendship grows—Julie soon finds she doesn’t want to. Carole, both wise and funny, becomes Julie’s model for breaking free of the past.
In the ever-widening scope of this story, Julie is given a front-row seat to not one but two of the greatest love affairs of all time: the undeniable on-screen chemistry between Scarlett and Rhett, and offscreen, the deepening love between Carole and Clark. Yet beneath the shiny façade, things in Hollywood are never quite what they seem, and Julie must learn to balance her career aspirations and her own budding romance with the outsized personalities and overheated drama on set. Vivid, romantic, and filled with Old Hollywood details, A Touch of Stardust will entrance, surprise, and delight.
I will never look at Gone with the Wind the same way again after reading this engrossing backstage story!
I was immediately sucked into the story as Alcott’s heroine sheds her innocence (in more ways than one) and throws herself into the dazzling world of the late 1930s Hollywood, complete with all the real-life controversy surrounding the making of this epic motion picture. And as long as the story stayed focused on this storyline, I was thoroughly hooked. I even teared up during some of the final scenes of the movie’s preview and premier.
But there was a darker story trying to break free from these pages, one that didn’t quite succeed. The whole subplot of the looming war, attacks against Jews both in Europe and at home in America, came across as a bit too forced into this otherwise glamorous, larger-than-life story. At first I loved the parallel stories—the studio wrap party on the day Germany invades Poland was an incredibly poignant scene—but the execution of that story in the final chapters just dragged the overall story down a dark alley and beat it to a bloody pulp. It broke that suspension of disbelief by becoming too preachy, too earnest, too out-of-sync with the rest of the story. And the epilogue was a complete downer, however factual, and totally belied the last line of the story, about belief in happy endings.
Still, it was a powerfully-written tale full of larger-than-life characters that will stick with me for a very long time. Definitely recommended for women’s fiction readers and fans of all things Scarlett and Rhett.
Conservative readers should note that this is a secular/general market novel, and as a movie, it would be rated R for gratuitous language and sex.
Available February 17, 2015 from Doubleday