Sunday, May 21, 2017
Book Club: Marlene
By C. W. Gortner
I did not know anything about Marlene Dietrich. Only that I knew she was an actress. She was born in Germany in 1901. She lived through World War 1 in genteel poverty, then into middle class. She was a rebel rouser as a teenager. Her mother sent her off to school. Where she slept around.
She is a violinist, but changes her career as a singer, then to a cabaret singer. Then off to Hollywood. Where she becomes a leading lady in many feature films. Most of the films she made centered on her looks, rather than her smarts. Later on in her career, she did make a few serious films.
In the United States when World War 2 was happening. People didn't think kindly of her. They felt she was a sympathizer to the Germans. Which was not true at all. It was totally the opposite. She hated the Nazi's. Hitler tried to coax her to come back to make pictures in Germany. She refused which infuriated Hitler. Instead she became a U. S. citizen.
What I found was interesting she did advocate against the Germans. When she returned to Germany she was heartbroken and devastated how her country was left in shatters. Her sister was caught running a camp in Germany. The United States wanted to know if Marlene knew if her sister was involved. Instead her sister let it be known she had no idea who she was.
She volunteers with the USO and toured in Europe and Africa. She found her calling she loved entertaining the troops. The men loved her. Especially General Patton. Whom she had an affair as well.
While reading the novel. Something was bugging me. I couldn't put my finger on it . It was never said she was unhappy. But, I got to thinking about it. I realize what got her anywhere was her body, and her looks. Is that all there is? Or is that just me. I wouldn't want to further my career just on looks alone.
Our book club members loved the book. Some of them reminisced about the movies that Marlene Dietrich was involved in. The many movie stars, and politics in the movies in Hollywood. The competition of Greta Garbo, and Marlene Dietrich. How different movie studios are different now than they were in the 30's, and 40's. Where the production companies owned your contract and could ruin you.
The author, C. W. Gortner wrote Marlene by accident. He was involved in writing the novel, Chanel. In the novel, Chanel was a scene with Marlene Dietrich. Which his editor decided was better on the floor rather than in the book. His publicist gave him the idea of writing Marlene after Chanel was written.
We gave the book 5 tea cups. We just loved the book. We needed to get away from the seriousness. It was a fun read!
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