Marlene by C. W. Gortner
It’s no secret that I am a fan of C. W. Gortner, so when I saw the change to grab a ebook for review of his latest historical fiction, I jumped. This time Gortner’s focus is on the very famous Marlene Dietrich ( December 27, 1901-May 6, 1992).
Marlene Dietrich was born and raised in Germany. She studied violin under pressure from her mother but really wanted to be an actress. After being told at the music conservatory by the same music teacher she had an affair with, that she wasn’t good enough to play professionally, she gave up lessons. However, for a short while she does play for a burlesque company, until she was fired. She played fine but she was the only woman in the orchestra and her colleagues complained that her legs were driving them crazy.
Soon she moves in with a new lover, this time, a female. With the encouragement of her Uncle’s mistress and her new lover, she starts taking acting lesions. She also gets dancing parts in cabarets. She soon starts getting bit acting parts in plays too. Then she meets her future husband, Rudi, who works in the film industry and gets her a screen test. Eventually she gets her first movie part. Her and Rudi also have a daughter together but soon Marlene is invited to Hollywood and signs a contract. This is just as things are heating up in Germany and the stage is being set for World War II. She is glad to get out of there!
Soon she also gets her husband, their daughter, and Rudi’s mistress out of Germany and moves them to France and then once that is no longer safe, to the U.S.
In the mean time, her movie career is taking off and she has supporting and lead roles with famous actors. She has affairs with some of the leading men, including Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. At the same time, Hitler is working hard to lure her back to Germany and even threatens her remaining family living in Germany. What does she do? She joins the U.S.O and performs for U.S. soldiers, of course! She later meets General George Patton and has a brief affair with him but really she wants him to get her into Germany at the war’s end, so she can check on her family. She is devastated when she sees the state of the country she grew up in.
This book is told in chronological order. At times, I wanted her teenage and young adult years to move at a faster pace but once her career started, the book really picked up. I am not one to judge people by who they sleep with, I judge them on their accomplishments and Marlene Dietrich accomplishes a lot. She not only builds a career for herself but she braves war zones to comfort solders fighting for her new country. She is am inspiration!
I highly recommend ‘Marlene’ to historical fiction fans. Although this is a fictionalized account, if is well researched and I recommend it to those who enjoy biographies of famous people as well.
I received the ebook version for my honest review.
About C. W. Gortner
C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.
After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.
In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.
Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.