It was love at first sight for me. Clark Gable was THE MAN. No matter that, in real life, he was 3 years younger than my grandparents, he was the ONE. Well, Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, that is. I had a poster of him as Rhett in my bedroom for several years. I still have several books on him in my Gone With the Wind collection. Loretta Young, the dreamy wife in my favorite Christmas movie–The Bishop’s Wife, added to the appeal of this book. Finally, author Adriana Trigiani has become a fast favorite of mine when I want an enjoyable family sort of saga.
Gable & Young in Call of the Wild
“The secret had become a member of the family. It had its own space; each person bore a responsibility to it in their fashion….But the problem with any lie is that it is as transparents as the truth.” (Kindle version, p. 419)
The King of Hollywood, Clark Gable, and actress Loretta Young, made the movie Call of the Wild on location one winter and fell in love. At the time, Gable was married to controlling second wife, ‘Ria Langhorn Gable, 17 years his senior. The relationship was doomed from the start. Sadly–or happily depending on your point of view, this relationship led to the birth of the couple’s daughter, whose existence had to be officially hidden. This book is the story of that relationship and of Loretta’s efforts to make a good life for daughter Judy–going so far as to have her daughter’s ears pinned back to camouflage their likeness to Gable’s famous ears.
As Loretta deals wtih keeping the secret, Gable goes on with his life, all the while maintaining that Young pushed him away. Today, sadly, Gable would be big in #metoo tweets. His ways were not those of a modern metrosexual man. I admit that his reputation as a “ladies man” is not something I like or admire. Later in life, their daughter would claim her father had “date raped” her mother, but in the book all is consensual.
Gable & Young later in life in Key to the City
How steamy is this photo? Love it!
What I Liked
I loved that Loretta’s faith was accurately portrayed. Like all believers (Loretta was Catholic) she was completely imperfect. That Gable was a married man DID bother her. When she became pregnant she would not even consider an abortion like many other stars of the day had in similar circumstances.
What I Didn’t Like
“Didn’t like” is too strong, but I’ll stick with it for lack of a better expression. There were several times when the story seemed to jump forward without warning–or mention of the new year. This was confusing, resulting in have to backtrack and listen to something a second time.
There were a few silly historical errors that did not affect the story, but as always, make me wonder how old or well-educated the editor was. Doesn’t anyone Google? In one scene David Niven mentions doing his own lobotomy [joke] at a time when no one would have even be aware of the procedure–it may havebeen created, but was not at all known at that time. That is the level of error. These are a pet peeve of mine.
Finally, this is the only Gable book that didn’t mention his terrible breath!
Those are minor problems in an otherwise enjoyable story.
All the Stars in the Heavens: A Novel by Adriana Trigiani
More by Adriana Trigiani
You can read my review of Adriana Trigiani’s newest novel, Tony’s Wife here.
How fabulous is that cover??
From my old blog:
WOW! How often do you find a big sprawling family saga WITHOUT graphic sex, graphic language, horrific abuse or sexual molestation?? Well, The Shoemaker’s Wife IS that novel!! Such a sweet book! Coming of age story! Immigrant story! Love story! This one is not-to-be-missed! This story is the one you’d likely pick for your own ancestors! The characters are achingly real. The story is simple, honest, NORMAL. I just plain loved it!
The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani
For Additional Novels on the Golden Age of Hollywood:
Girls in the Picture: A Novel byMelanie Benjamin–my review.
Women Enters Left by Jessica Brockmole–my review.