The Hollywood actress is a cipher. Glamorous, enigmatic and completely compelling, she is the stuff of legend. What follows is a compilation of short reviews and book suggestion to help you indulge your inner cine- and bibliophile.
The Actress by Amy Sohn
What makes The Actress so intriguing is the fact that Amy Sohn has experience in Hollywood. She’s written pilots for HBO, Fox and Lifetime. The novel follows Maddy Freed as she skyrockets to fame following her marriage to the enigmatic Steven Weller. What makes this novel so fascinating is there’s been speculation that Sohn based her protagonists off of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise.
Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
This gut-wrenching novel follows unfulfilled actress Maria Wyeth down the path of a nervous breakdown. Imagine it as The Bell Jar written through the prism of Hollywood culture. Although the book is slim (it’s only 240 pages long) it’s a character study that will cut you to the quick long after you’ve completed it.
Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub
This sweeping epic follows Laura Lamont (née Elsa Emerson) during the heyday of Hollywood. We follow Laura from a playhouse in Door County all the way to the sound stages of Hollywood during the golden age of cinema. It also doubles as a unique character study and a family epic.
Marilyn Monroe is arguably the ultimate actress. Her life and tragic end is the stuff of Hollywood folklore. Oates’ classic novel imagines her life in the way only Oates can. Eerie, disturbing, compelling and beautifully written, Blonde is a Hollywood novel for the ages.
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Jennifer North, also based on Marilyn Monroe, and Neely O’Hara (a fictionalized version of Judy Garland) are at the center of this drug-fueled, salaciously written novel. Valley of the Dolls is inarguably the ultimate book about Hollywood actresses and the tragic aspect of celluloid culture.