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From the author of The Color of Secrets and The Woman on the Orient Express comes a poignant novel inspired by the Hollywood legend—and the secrets of—actress Merle Oberon, famous for playing Cathy to Laurence Olivier’s Heathcliff in the film Wuthering Heights.
For nineteen-year-old Estelle Thompson, going to the cinema is more than a way to pass the time…it’s a way out. In 1931 in Calcutta, Anglo-Indian girls like Estelle are considered half-breeds, shunned by both English and Indian society. Her only escape is through the silver screen, where she can forget the world around her.
When Estelle catches the eye of a dashing American heir with connections to a major motion-picture studio, he also captures her heart. Soon, Estelle has a one-way ticket to London and a recommendation for a screen test.
To get to the top, she must keep her Indian heritage concealed—and so begins her new identity as movie goddess Merle Oberon. But just as her dreams are poised to come true, she discovers that her own family is keeping a much more shocking secret from her—one that changes everything she’s believed about her past.
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Raised in Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom, Lindsay Jayne Ashford became the first woman to graduate from Queens’ College, Cambridge, in its 550-year history. She earned a degree in criminology and was employed as a reporter for the BBC before becoming a freelance journalist, writing for a number of national magazines and newspapers.
Lindsay began her career as a novelist with a contemporary crime series featuring forensic psychologist Megan Rhys. She moved into the historical genre with The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen. Her two most recent books, The Color of Secrets and The Woman on the Orient Express, blend fiction with real events of the early twentieth century.
Lindsay has four children and divides her time between a house overlooking the sea on the west coast of Wales and a small farmhouse in Spain’s Sierra de Los Filabres. When she’s not writing, she enjoys volunteering with Save the Children, kayaking, and walking her border terrier, Milly.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was a little hesitant reading this novel at first as a fictionalised reimagining of a reallife feels so many shades of wrong. However, I decided to give it a fair crack of the whip and decided to treat it as though the people within the covers had never really existed and it was all fiction. This is surprisingly easy to do, especially if you know absolutely nothing about Merle Oberon. To me she was merely a name from the end of the Golden Era in filmmaking and I'm not even sure that I have seen her in a film - I know her most famous film was perhaps Wuthering Heights but as I don't particularly like the novel I haven't been in any rush to see an adaptation of it. The tale itself is gloriously wrought. The early section, in India, where the young Estelle lives with her mataji, Charlotte, is particularly evocative. You can feel the heat and smell the spice laden air wafting from the pages. The character of Estelle is particularly empathetic and her naivety from her rather cloistered upbringing in the Anglo-Indian quarter is at eternal odds with both her ambition and her underlying sensuous nature. Whether Merle Oberon was really like this I have no idea but I kind of hope she was; there is a feisty fearlessness to her that makes you immediately warm to her and accept her character flaws without them diminishing your affection for the character. Whilst only just "pale enough to pass" this doesn't stop her from following her dreams and travelling to England with a letter of recommendation in her pocket and love in her heart. Sadly the love was misplaced and the intended recipient of the letter away but by a string of fortuitous meetings she still manages to make the right connections by meeting with Sandor Korda who sees her potential and so a star is born. I found this to be a real page turner and was quite sad when it finishes early in Merle's life after her marriage to Korda. Whilst the events are fictionalised the inspiration behind the author's imaginings is explained in the Afterword and the known biography of Ms Oberon is synopsied there for the reader. All of the characters in the book live and breathe and this isn't because there is a "name" attached to them; indeed many of them behave in ways that you wouldn't expect (although Vivien Leigh's overvaulting ambition and spite are well recorded) and feel all the more real for it. If you can seperate the real person from the fictional account then you will enjoy this novel. The settings, both glamorous and mundane, are richly evoked and the populace of the pages live and breathe on their own. There are some twists and turns in the plot that you genuinely don't see coming but when all mixed together they just make it feel like a genuine life.
An absorbing fictional and biographical account about Merle Oberon (formerly Estelle Thompson) who had to hide her Anglo-Indian ancestry in order to break into the narrow-minded and bigoted film industry in England and then later Hollywood. Not a completely accurate account, the author describes the fictional liberties she took with both Merle and the other characters in the book. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the book was entertaining and had me constantly googling the characters and places that were mentioned in the book and I was able to sort out fiction from fact. A fun read for anyone who loves Hollywood stories with a bit of fantasy and intrigue thrown in.