I’m thrilled to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for Woman Enters Left by Jessica Brockmole and to share with you my thoughts about this fantastic book. Reading this over the past couple of days, I feel as if I’ve been transported back to the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Do check out the posts of the fabulous bloggers hosting the other stops on the tour. If you’re in the US, via the tour page, you can enter the giveaway to win a SIGNED copy of Woman Enters Left (closes 6th October).
About the Book
1950s movie star Louise Wilde is caught between an unfulfilling acting career and a shaky marriage when she receives an out-of-the-blue phone call: she has inherited the estate of Florence “Florrie” Daniels, a Hollywood screenwriter she barely recalls meeting. Among Florrie’s possessions are several unproduced screenplays, personal journals, and – inexplicably – old photographs of Louise’s mother, Ethel. On an impulse, Louise leaves a film shoot in Las Vegas and sets off for her father’s house on the East Coast, hoping for answers about the curious inheritance and, perhaps, about her own troubled marriage.
Nearly thirty years earlier, Florrie takes off on an adventure of her own, driving her Model T westward from New Jersey in pursuit of broader horizons. She has the promise of a Hollywood job and, in the passenger seat, Ethel, her best friend since childhood. Florrie will do anything for Ethel, who is desperate to reach Nevada in time to reconcile with her husband and reunite with her daughter. Ethel fears the loss of her marriage; Florrie, with long-held secrets confided only in her journal, fears its survival.
In parallel tales, the three women – Louise, Florrie, Ethel – discover that not all journeys follow a map. As they rediscover their carefree selves on the road, they learn that sometimes the paths we follow are shaped more by our traveling companions than by our destinations.
Format: Paperback, ebook (352 pp.) Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: 8th August 2017 Genre: Historical Fiction
Find Woman Enters Left on Goodreads
10 Things I Loved About Woman Enters Left by Jessica Brockmole
- It’s built around three strong female characters and presents a wonderful and moving picture of female love and friendship.
- Its evocation of the glamorous and not so glamorous aspects of the Golden Ages of Hollywood – the studios, the actors, the screenwriters, the casting couch…
- The brilliantly observed period detail in each timeline. The clothes, the make-up, the cocktails, the food – creamed chipped beef on toast, slumgullion stew, shrimp wiggle, croquettes.
- The carefully-constructed narrative structure, with the story moving back and forth between the two timelines: the 1926 narrative told through Ethel’s and Florrie’s journals, each in their distinctive style, interspersed with excerpts from Florrie’s unpublished screenplay; the 1952 narrative told from Louise’s point of view, with other documents used to fill in the period between 1926 and 1952.
- The fascinating road trip along Route 66 with its campsites, dude ranches, motels and, dare I say it, cinematic scenery.
- The multi-layered narrative that, as well as the central story of the three women, covers issues as diverse as the blacklisting of screenwriters/actors in the 1950s and the activities of The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), workplace safety and sexual freedom (or lack of it), the Korean war and post-combat stress.
- Its themes: of unintended consequences and the guilt that can arise from these; missed opportunities in life, career and love; the need to seize second chances.
- The sparkling dialogue, particularly between Louise and Arnie, that’s straight out of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in, say, Woman of the Year
- The frequent allusions to life as a film script from the title itself, Woman Enters Left to the way the characters see themselves and interpret their experiences: ‘She can picture it now, a shot on the screen in Technicolor. The red car, the brown desert, the dark-haired actress running away from it all with her wicker suitcase.’ ‘But what does the scene call for? What would the script say?’
- The brilliant ending – pure Hollywood!
Not too difficult to guess that I adored this book. It has it all: romance, glamour, authentic period detail and a compelling narrative. If someone doesn’t snap up the film rights, they’re missing a trick.
Highly recommended…and all Jessica’s previous books just got added to my TBR.
I received an advance reader copy courtesy of HF Virtual Book Tours in return for an honest review.
In three words: Stylish, dramatic, compelling
Watch something similar… A Star is Born , Hail, Caesar! , Trumbo 
About the Author
Jessica Brockmole is the author of At the Edge of Summer, the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, which was named one of the best books of 2013 by Publishers Weekly, and Something Worth Landing For, a novella featured in Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War. She lives in northern Indiana with her husband, two children, and far too many books.
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