There’s a great romance to early Hollywood.
It’s the pioneer spirit, a 20th Century goldrush of people arriving in this California town and suddenly becoming unfeasibly rich and impossibly famous. (Seriously, go back and read about the lives of silent film stars – most of whom are utterly forgotten today – there are Russian Tsars who weren’t as opulent.) That same romance is there in the coming of a sound – a time of great flux for the industry where anything seemed possible.
That romance is, of course, captured wonderfully in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, and is also picked up with real beauty and empathy in THE GARDEN ON SUNSET. The first of a series I know I’ll be devouring.
Set in a real hotel which was once the property of a now has-been silent film star, Alla Nazimova (a real person, but capturing the Norma Desmond-esque rise and fall that some of these people endured), the book follows three young wannabes in Hollywood following their dreams. Through a series of vignettes, Martin Turnbull leads us through the end of the roaring twenties, the coming of sound and the depression. But even though there are big events taking place, it’s a very human book with a fantastic amount of empathy and wit. It isn’t a love story in any normal sense, but it is about romance. The romance of the age, the romance of hope, the romance of people with dreams.
Obviously, I write about movie people too (when I have my noir hat on, at least), so the world this evokes was always going to appeal directly to me. As such I opened the first page with probably ridiculously high expectations, and I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.
My debut novel, THE WANNABES – which has been out of print for a little while – is now available for free. A supernatural thriller of beautiful actresses and deadly ambition in London town, it’s well worth your time. You can get your copy here!