Thursday, June 08, 2023

113. Strangers in the Night

Strangers in the Night. Heather Webb. 2023. 432 pages. [Source: Library] [Adults]

First sentence: Every important moment of my life could be measured in notes and captured by a song. That was never truer than the first night I saw her across the room, belonging to someone else.

Premise/plot: Historical fiction starring Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner. Historical romance [of the graphic sort] starring Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner. It roughly begins circa 1946. (I say roughly because the prologue is undated.) It follows the "tragic" "star-crossed" lovers across several decades and around the globe. He was a global singing star AND a movie star. She was a movie star. Together they were one hot mess.

My thoughts: Is the book flattering to Frank? Not really--in my own personal opinion. Is the book flattering to Ava? Again, not really--in my own opinion. I do think the book was meant to be flattering to both. I get the impression that the author enjoyed [greatly appreciated] both personalities--flaws and all. I think the "tragic romance" element was supposed to hook readers into sympathizing with these lovers. Was I sympathetic to Frank and Ava as a couple? NO! I thought together they were obviously extremely toxic. Individually, I think there was some toxicity. I will say that I never got the impression that it was all his fault or all her fault. I think they as individuals made repeated bad decisions. There were things he did that I would find unforgivable. There were things she did that I would find unforgivable. 

I do wish that this one had been CLEARER about dates. Each "part" was given a range of years. The first part covers three or four years. That's not so bad, I suppose. But other sections cover DECADES. And there's no specific years mentioned at all. Like "1950 to 1966" or "1966 to 1990." And HOW is that even remotely helpful???? I think the book would have been greatly improved if there were more connections to specific times--dates, months, years, events.

There were some movies mentioned for each. There were a few songs and/or albums mentioned for him. If it had been more historical fiction and less graphic romance novel, perhaps it would have done a better job doing tribute to the life and times. I do think the potential is there to tell great stories in this time period.

© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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