• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (December 13, 2016)
From the cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the dazzling film studios of Hollywood’s golden age, an enthralling novel of a glamorous legend Maria Magdalena Dietrich was born for a life on the stage. Raised in genteel poverty after the First World War, the willful teenager vows to become an actress and singer, trading her family’s proper, middle-class society for the free-spirited decadence of Weimar Berlin’s cabarets and drag balls. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene performs to packed houses—and becomes entangled in a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention—until she finds overnight success in her breakthrough film role as the cabaret singer Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel.
For Marlene, neither fame nor marriage and motherhood can cure her wanderlust. As Hitler rises to power, she sets sail for America. Her image as an erotic temptress captures worldwide attention, and she becomes one of Hollywood’s top leading ladies, starring in one high-profile film—and affair—after another. Though Hitler tries to lure her back to Germany, Marlene chooses instead to become a citizen of her new nation, even as America enters the war against her fatherland.
But one day, she must return to Germany, escorted by General George Patton himself. In the devastated cities and the concentration camps, she comes face-to-face with how the evils of fascism transformed her country, and the family she thought she knew.
Lushly descriptive, as alluring as the lady herself, Marlene reveals the inner life of a woman of grit, glamour, and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged a path on her own terms.
Marlene reminded me just how very much I love biographical and historical fiction. It’s like peeking behind the curtain, cinematic and a bit voyeuristic. Since it’s fiction, though, the author can connect some of the dots we’d never otherwise know. We get to know the “character” with bits of truth and fantasy woven together to create a wonderful tapestry of immensely satisfying literature. Gortner paints an incredible canvas full of life, with even the tiniest details described and some of the settings come to life so fully you forget you’re reading about real places. Or places you’ve never actually been but the characters have. If you’re looking for your next historical read, I highly recommend Marlene!
Thanks to TLC Book tours and William Morrow Books for the review opportunity.
About C. W. Gortner
C. W. Gortner is the author of many bestselling historical novels—including Mademoiselle Chanel—which have been published in more than twenty countries. He lives in San Francisco.