I’m rounding off the blogtour for Strangers in the Night by Heather Webb with my review today. I’m a big fan of Frank Sinatra who I think was one of the greatest singers of all time. His interpretations of the ‘Great American Songbook’ are timeless.
About the book
It was the tumultuous romance that scandalized the world: Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner fought, loved, and lived life to the hilt. Now their unbridled story is brought vividly to life by Heather Webb, the bestselling author of Meet Me in Monaco and The Next Ship Home.
In the golden age of Hollywood, two of the brightest stars would define—and defy—an era…
She was the small-town southern beauty transformed into a Hollywood love goddess. He was the legendary crooner whose voice transfixed the world. They were Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra. Separately they were irresistible; together they were an explosive combination.
Ava’s star is rising just as Frank’s career—and public image as a family man—is taking a hit. Gone are the days of the screaming bobbysoxers and chart-topping hits. Ava, however, finds herself gracing the front page of every tabloid in America. Jealousy and cheating abound, and when the two succumb to their temperaments and their vices, their happiness is threatened at every turn.
As the pair ride the rollercoaster of success and failure, passion and anger, they both wonder if the next turn will be the end of their careers, and most devastating of all—the end of all they’ve shared.
A captivating novel with a star-studded cast spanning continents and decades, Strangers in the Night brings to life the most riveting love story of the twentieth century.
One thing I really enjoyed about this book was that, although it’s fictional, it really felt like you were reading a candid memoir. The characters were real of course and I felt I’d been set down in the middle of glamorous LA in the Golden Age of Hollywood with so many other familiar and iconic names flitting in and out of the story: Lana Turner, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Micky Rooney, Lena Horne, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall to name but a few. Mentions of films and songs from the era really grounded the narrative in its time.
I really didn’t know much at all about Ava Gardner beyond that she was a beautiful actress and not really that much about Frank Sinatra’s life other than the rumours, of course, of Mafia connections and his high profile friendships with the Kennedys and Marilyn Monroe. The author is at pains to point out that although Frank and Ava and many other characters did exist, her characterisation and interpretation of events should be read as fictional. Nonetheless, I feel I did get a lot of insight into their lives and have found out more about them.
What is clear is that the relationship between Gardner and Sinatra was highly charged and tumultuous. With them both being so famous and constantly in the spotlight, it would have been difficult to maintain any kind of normal relationship with the continual media clamour to know all about them. For me, the story lost its way a bit here as jealousy and anger frequently flared, there were affairs, constant fights, then passionate making-up. I know this is reflective of their relationship but I felt this made the middle part of the book a little repetitive.
I feel I know much more about both Sinatra and Gardner now. I still love Sinatra’s music but am disappointed in his character. In fact, I don’t really think I like either of them! This is a colourful portrayal of a charismatic couple and the ups and downs of their glittering careers. There was a real cinematic feel to this book and it would make a terrific biopic. Heather Webb has written a engaging book which will definitely appeal to fans of Sinatra and Gardner and to anyone who enjoys reading about the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Strangers in the Night is published by Harper 360 (William Morrow) and available
now. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the review copy of the
book and the invitation to take part in the blogtour.
About the Author
Heather Webb is the award-winning and USA Today bestselling author of The Last Ship Home, The Phantom’s Apprentice, Rodin’s Lover, and Becoming Josephine. Heather is also a freelance editor, and teaches craft courses at a local college. Her novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages, worldwide. She lives in Connecticut with her family and one feisty rabbit.
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Thanks for the blog tour support x