Julie Crawford left Fort Wayne, Indiana with dreams of being a Hollywood screenwriter. Unfortunately, her new life is off to a rocky start. Fired by the notoriously demanding director of Gone With the Wind, she’s lucky to be rescued by Carole Lombard, whose scandalous affair with the still-married Clark Gable is just heating up.
As Carole’s assistant, Julie suddenly has a front-row seat to two of the world’s greatest love affairs. And while Rhett and Scarlett—and Lombard and Gable—make movie history, Julie is caught up in a whirlwind of outsized personalities and overheated behind-the-scenes drama … not to mention a budding romance of her own.
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You know the drill, you have a long haul flight coming up and need a paperback on the off chance all your technology fails you. That was me a couple of weeks back and, despite never having heard of the book itself, I picked up A Touch Of Stardust for my long trip home. It’s a short book, and an easy read, and it killed some airport and proceeding flight time nicely.
To cut to the chase, fans of Old Hollywood and especially of Gone With The Wind need to read this book. I knew there was a lot of drama surrounding the production of the film, but A Touch Of Stardust does a good job of showing the reader just how that drama affected the actors, production team, and everyone else around them. It’s hard to believe now, that at one point (or several) it looked as though the film wouldn’t even get made, or that it would be a commercial disappointment if it did. I also don’t know a lot about the actors themselves, but the story felt well researched and so I whole heartedly believed every interaction with Gable, Lombard, and other famous faces.
Alcott’s writing made me feel as though I was in the room where all of this was happening, which was really lovely. But while it was lovely to see these events and people through a different character, Julie Crawford felt a little underdeveloped to me. As did her love interest, and the flat side characters. I haven’t read any of Alcott’s other work, so I might have to come back and report after reading, say, The Dressmaker, but I felt that her own characters really let the side down. That, and the length of the book. I seldom feel a book is too short, but in this case I think that the 294 paperback could easily have made a 400 – 600 page book. The bland characters, rushed secondary story arc and rather limp ending unfortunately brought down the overall rating for me, but I really, really loved the Gable/Lombard and Gone With The Wind aspects.