Platinum Doll by Anne Girard: A Book Review

Platinum Doll
Author: Anne Girard
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Pages: 368
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, novelist Anne Girard tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film. 

     It's the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She's chasing a dream—to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights. 

     In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want—a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends—except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition—to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she's thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth—that fame comes at a price, if only she's willing to pay it. 

     Amid a glittering cast of ingenues and Hollywood titans—Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes—Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.

     My Review: I have heard of the legendary movie star, Jean Harlow. However, I have not seen any of the movies she starred in, or known any details about her personal life. Reading Platinum Doll was a pleasure because it showed how fascinating and complex Jean Harlow was. This novel chronicles Jean Harlow’s early years of how she became a star. This story follows Jean through her turbulent marriage to Chuck McGrew, her ambitious and controlling mother, Jean Bello, who wants to thrust her daughter into the spotlight, and her struggle to make it big in Hollywood.

     This novel uses Jean Harlow’s real name Harlean. Harlean had just run away from her home to marry, Charles, a young rich boy. They moved to Los Angeles hoping to start a new life. However, Harlean befriends an aspiring actress. While waiting for her friend on set, she caught  the eye of a few Fox executives who gave her letters of recommendations to Central Casting. Reluctant to go to Central Casting, her friends made a bet that she should go. She went to Central Casting and used her mother’s maiden name for her stage name. Soon she became an extra for a movie. Afterwards, she realized that she loved acting and decided to pursue it as a career.

     Harlean is a sympathetic figure. At first, she is an idealist and a romantic. She is passionately in love with Charles and is content at being a housewife She loves books and aspires to be a novelist. She is reluctant to act because she is content with her life. Yet, when she starts to act, her husband becomes jealous and possessive. He does not want her to act. However, when her mother comes to move in with them, their marriage becomes even more heated. Her mother wants Harlean to be a famous actress. Thus, Charles and her mother clash as they try to assert control over her. Harlean fights to be her own self and to make her own decisions for her happiness. 

     Overall, this novel is about love, family, choices, and sacrifices. It is a quest for a woman to find her happiness and her identity. The message of the book is to follow your dreams and to never give up. I felt the characters to be complex and engaging. Harlean was an inspiring character. She never gave up on her dream, even when defeat seemed to be her fate. I also loved the setting of Hollywood’s Golden Age. We get to meet some stars in her life, most notably Clark Gable. My only complaint is that this novel left me wanting more. I wanted the book to continue as an established star. I hope that the author will write a sequel because I did not want this book to end. I loved Jean Harlow and her world. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Jean Harlow and Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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