New Acquisitions: 5/7/16


Gortner’s novel Mademoiselle Chanel was fascinating–I hadn’t realized how remarkable Coco Chanel’s life was, nor the societal pressures that she faced.  I don’t know terribly much about Marlene Dietrich, and am excited to dive into her life story.  Many thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy.

Raised in genteel poverty after the First World War, Maria Magdalena Dietrich dreams of a life on the stage. When a budding career as a violinist is cut short, the willful teenager vows to become a singer, trading her family’s proper, middle-class society for the free-spirited, louche world of Weimar Berlin’s cabarets and drag balls. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, seductive silk cocktail dresses, 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.

For the beautiful, desirous Marlene, neither fame nor marriage and motherhood can cure her wanderlust. As Hitler and the Nazis rise to power, she sets sail for America. Rivaling the success of another European import, Greta Garbo, Marlene quickly becomes one of Hollywood’s leading ladies, starring with legends such as Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. Desperate for her return, Hitler tries to lure her with dazzling promises. Marlene instead chooses to become an American citizen, and after her new nation is forced into World War II, she tours with the USO, performing for thousands of Allied troops in Europe and Africa.

But one day she returns to Germany. Escorted by General George Patton himself, Marlene is heartbroken by the war’s devastation and the evil legacy of the Third Reich that has transformed her homeland and the family she loved.

An enthralling and insightful account of this extraordinary legend, Marlene reveals the inner life of a woman of grit, glamour, and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged her own path on her own terms.


I was at Barnes & Noble last week and was having some major issues deciding what book(s) to buy.  I had only planned on buying one, but then my stack kind of exploded, and I ended up having to put some back.  I settled on Beauty’s Kingdom by Anne Rice mostly out of morbid curiosity.  I encountered Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty novels by accident back when I was still in college.  I thought they were simple fairy tales retold rather than full-blown erotica, and was in for a bit of a shock–but I couldn’t look away and kept reading.  This novel is set around 20 years after the original trilogy, and I’m curious to see how Anne Rice reflects on her older writing, considering her own literary evolution over the years.

I also picked up The Wrath and the Dawn, a young adult retelling of the Arabian Nights which has been getting rave reviews around the blogosphere.  I started reading it and am in the don’t-want-to-put-it-down phase, so I’m pretty sure it’s worth every bit of hype.  Of course it’s part of a trilogy that isn’t finished yet, which means I’m going to be raging on Twitter at some point in the near future.  Because raging on Twitter makes books come out faster, obviously.

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One comment

  1. Oh it’s always good to hear when one lives up to its hype! But it sucks that the trilogy isn’t completed, I’ve avoided new series for at least two years now.