Marlene: A Novel

Marlene: A Novel

by C. W. Gortner


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A lush, dramatic biographical novel of one of the most glamorous and alluring legends of Hollywood’s golden age, Marlene Dietrich—from the gender-bending cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the lush film studios of Hollywood, a sweeping story of passion, glamour, ambition, art, and war from the author of Mademoiselle Chanel.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062406071
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/13/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 499,966
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

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.

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Marlene: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
rokinrev More than 1 year ago
“Tu etwas Lena. Do something” Maria Magdelene Dietrich grew up in “genteel poverty” with an ailing sister and a “dragon” of a mother, determined to raise two girls to standards that she refused to see were changing; challenged by society. Marlene loved who she wanted to, how and when she wanted to, as she found her way in judgmental society that simply could not reign her in. She married not only for propriety, but to forward a budding career, using Rudi Sieber as much as he used her. Their daughter, Maria, known by her nickname Heididede until she became an actress, was bounced between them as they tried to keep her safe in their own way. Dietrich challenged the norms wherever she went. She was ambivalent about sex, but exuded it on screen. She had a way of making you love her and hate her at the same time. She became a naturalized citizen but never stopped loving her Germany, although it started using her. The performer Marlene wasn’t the woman...or was she? Most regular readers of my reviews know that I may often have an ebook and a paper book going at the same time as no tech is allowed in my bedroom. It isn’t often, however, that the paper book becomes the focus as the ebook languishes. This is no “Madamoiselle Chanel”, but CW Gortner has written a “love letter” to an actress named the 9th greatest of all time according to the American Film Institute. I admit, I know Dietrich from still photography and a very old 1 sided 78 rpm recording of her singing “Lily Marleen” that belonged to my late German grandfather. He loved Dietrich. Now that I have read this, maybe the next time I see a Dietrich film, I won’t pass it by. 4/5
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings My second C.W. Gortner epic read and I am officially a fan! This one centers around Marlene Dietrich who had such an epic life. From living in Germany and working in theater there to moving to Hollywood and living the ultimate Hollywood life and even to the USO tour and seeing the front lines of a war that involved her home country, she had an extraordinary life. Before reading this book, I knew very little of Marlene Dietrich, if anything! Before this book, I read her book on Chanel and I knew much more about her. I actually liked going into this book blind, it was fun to read a story and just enjoy it for the mix of fiction and non fiction that it was.
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
The first moment I got this book in the mail (Thank you, William Morrow Paperbacks!) I got excited and at the same time had to settle down (I was sick with an awful flu that knocked me down and got the entire household sick). It could not have come at a better time. I say that not only in the sense that I needed a book to get me out of a reading rut and also to distract me from this flu, but considering what’s going on in the world now, it’s perfect timing. I loved this book. Everything about it was all that I had imagined Marlene Dietrich would be. The book captured who she was; strong willed, free spirited, glamourous yet determined to make her name out there known in the world. What I loved best was how her attitude during this particular time period. She participated in just about every deadly sin listed but did it with grace and poise. I loved how this book captured that essence and that was what made her shine even through the War. I absolutely loved her bravery and willingness to stand up against the Nazis even though she loved her country dearly and it tore her apart to see it ruined by the end of WWII. The writing in the book is well done. It was enough to engage the reader and to keep the pages turning. Now, I do notice in some other reviews I’ve read, some readers didn’t like the fact that the book stops at a certain time period (after WWII). Fair enough, perhaps they wanted more out of Marlene. I was satisfied with it, because if you really think about it, the absolute highlight and prime moments of her life was during this time period. This book was meant to capture those particular occasions. So try not to feel jilted or robbed! It’s still a great read and it goes by rather quick! I’d have to say one of my absolute favorite parts in the book was her experiences in Weimar Berlin. It was beautifully written and you could just feel the cigarette smoke, the music, and you can almost picture the decadence that permeated throughout the cabarets. It was perfect!. Another part that I loved, and that I had waited throughout the book to read and was getting worried that it wasn’t going to be mentioned, was Lili Marleen. Such an iconic song it had to be in the book! And it was. It tugged at my heart and I welled up with emotion reading that particular passage. Beautifully written and an excellent novel I greatly recommend this book to historical fiction lovers or lovers of Marlene Dietrich. Her actions during the WWII is crucial and something to emulate. Especially for what we are going through right now in the world.