Updated: Apr 5, 2018
I have always found the glitz and glamour of a budding Hollywood in the early and mid-twentieth century appealing. The films from this time, where cinema transformed from silent to “talkie” films, are innovative and imaginative allowing audiences to connect to Hollywood in a way like never before. As films were produced at a new rate, rising stars were born and thrust into the spotlight. Now, decades later audiences young and old can enjoy these captivating productions. In high school, my bedroom walls were covered with pictures of Marilyn Monroe, and my shelves were (and still are) lined with classic movies starring Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Paul Newman, and other well-known actors and actresses of their time. The allure of these stars and movies is eternal. Nothing beats curling up and watching a classic movie, well, except reading about them.
All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, creatively recreates the secret romance and lives of two of the most famous actors of their time. This novel is based on the lives of Loretta Young, Clark Gable, and other notable stars of the early and mid-twentieth century stars of cinema. Just as The Aviator’s Wife encouraged me to pursue researching the Lindbergh’s lives, I was intrigued to research the lives of Loretta and Clark. Though Trigiani used her imagination to interpret the events in Loretta’s relationships, to my surprise, the novel was mostly accurate in the events that took place in real life. Trigiani vividly recreates the adventures of romance, the agony of heartbreak, the strength of family, and the emotional toll of keeping secrets.
All the Stars in the Heavens mixes history, Hollywood, romance, and drama into one novel. As a reader, I was intrigued in the historical aspects of the novel, yet my inner hopeless romantic became emotionally attached to the stories of love and loss. Though the novel in its essence is about romantic relationships, readers are introduced to strong willed, independent, and successful women. This theme is evident in the bond depicted between Loretta and her family, and with the fictional character Alda Ducci, who becomes Loretta’s assistant. Alda is a headstrong, compassionate, and feisty woman who shares qualities with Loretta’s mother who is a force to be reckoned with. The fictional and nonfictional characters in the novel are well-written and creative, and the interpretation of the lives of Hollywood’s brightest stars is fascinating.
For a majority of the book I was completely entranced by the characters and story line, but by the last one hundred pages of the book I started to lose my interest in reading the novel. Sometimes I get so attached to a book that I try to read the last chapters slowly to savor the entirety of the book. Yet, with this book I tried to hurry to finish it just for the sake of being finished. I am not sure whether it was my frame of mind while reading the last chapters of this book, or if it was the way it was written that made my interest fizzle out. Most of the book focuses on Clark and Loretta’s relationship during the filming of Call of the Wild, Alda’s personal story and romance, and later on the efforts into hiding Loretta’s pregnancy, so the ending felt rushed in an attempt to finish up the character’s lives, which left me conflicted by the final results.
In the end I truly enjoyed All the Stars in the Heavens, however, I cannot quite put a finger on why the last portion of the book left me disappointed. The reason I wanted to point this out is not for potential readers to become discouraged from reading this book, but instead encourage them to pursue reading it to develop their own opinion of the ending. Though I usually like to make my own interpretation of what characters look like, another suggestion to future readers of All the Stars in the Heavens, I encourage googling images of the actors and actresses to have a mental image of what they looked like. The book in its entirety was truly inviting and had a certain charisma that at times pulled me in. This book took me about two weeks to read, due to its length and my own personal schedule, however, it can be read in a brief period if one has the time.
Title: All the Stars in the Heavens
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 26, 2016)