Although I have a “To Read” list on Goodreads and have books and authors scribbled down on the backs of various envelopes and whatnot, I am also a pretty impulsive reader. Especially at my favorite local used book store. It’s a wonderful place where they give you credit for any books you bring in and also offer a 50% discount when you use that trade credit. When I’m there, I completely ignore my scribbles and my “To Read” list and just buy books on impulse.
All the Stars in the Heavens, by Adriana Trigiani, was just such an impulse buy, but, I gotta tell you, folks, it was a bad impulse. I thought I was in the mood for some Old Hollywood drama, and this book has drama in spades, it really does. But, for me, it was not good drama. It was also a lot of unnecessary drama. There were a few secondary and tertiary characters that had a lot of attention paid to them for very little payoff. As a result, this book is at least 100 pages too long.
All the Stars in the Heavens is, mostly, about Loretta Young. The third daughter of a single mother of five, Loretta began acting at a very, very young age. In fact, all of the Young daughters did, working as extras when they were still in grade school, but Loretta was the only one who wanted to make acting her career. She enjoyed acting, but also saw it as a way to help her family.
Loretta was very smart, but, like me, she was sometimes impulsive. And like my purchase of this book, her impulses were often bad. Like messing-with-married-men bad (ahem, Clark Gable). And not-using-birth-control bad. And pretending-to-adopt-her-own-birth-daughter bad. And pinning-her-daughter’s-ears-back-so-she-didn’t-look-so-much-like-her-father bad. Seriously, such bad impulses.
Now, I do understand that in Old Hollywood the studios basically owned the actors and could ruin them if they felt the actors acted immorally. And yes, I understand that the studio would protect their moneymaker, Clark Gable, over a starlet like Young if their affair came out. But, even with that understanding, I couldn’t relate to most of what Loretta did. The author just didn’t sell Loretta’s peculiar blend of devout Catholicism and adulterous affairs for me. I’m not saying someone can’t be both devout and an adulterer, I’m just saying the writing didn’t sell it.
And don’t get me started on the other characters. I’m not sure I needed entire chapters dedicated to Loretta’s secretary, or the guy who lived in the pool house. And I definitely didn’t need the bits about the art student that is Loretta’s secretary’s niece-by-marriage. Did I mention the book is at least 100 pages too long?
I honestly can’t recommend the book. I didn’t like the writing and I didn’t like the characters. I’ll say 2 stars because it wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t good.