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#TuesdayBookBlog BETTE & JOAN: THE DIVINE FEUD by Shaun Considine Entertaining, funny, full of memorable quotes, and an irresistible insider’s view of the Hollywood of the studio era. #Bookreview #Hollywood

Hi all:

Today I bring you the review of a book about two women ‘bigger than life’.

Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine
Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine

Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine

They were two of the most talented beauties Hollywood ever produced: the elegant Joan Crawford, a former chorus girl who shot through the ranks at MGM, and the brash, tempestuous Bette Davis, a Broadway star notorious for refusing to bow to the studio bosses. Their work together in the hit film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? sowed the seeds for a mutual hatred that would consume their lives. As each fading star tried to outshine the other, lives were upended and reputations were destroyed. Glamorous, merciless, and cruel, their feud became the stuff of legends. Based on interviews the author conducted with both actresses and more than a decade of research, Bette & Joan shows the hard-drinking, hard-fighting duo at their best and worst. The epic story of these dueling divas is hilarious, monstrous, tragic, and the inspiration for the Ryan Murphy TV series Feud starring Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange. Now updated with two new chapters and a sixteen-page photo insert.

https://www.amazon.com/Bette-Joan-Divine-Shaun-Considine/dp/1631681060/

‘An absolute must-read’ VANITY FAIR

Bette Davis and Joan Crawford: two of the deadliest arch-rivals of all time. Born in the same year (though Davis swore ‘Crawford is five years older than me if she’s a day’), the two fought bitterly throughout their long and brilliant Hollywood careers. Joan became a star first, which always irked her rival, who suggested her success had come via the casting couch. ‘It sure as hell beats the hard cold floor’ was Crawford’s scathing response. According to Davis, Crawford was not only a nymphomaniac but also ‘vain, jealous and about as stable and trustworthy as a basket of snakes’. Crawford, in turn, accused Davis of stealing her glory and planning to destroy her.

The two rivals fought over as many men as they did parts – when Bette fell in love with her co-star in DANGEROUS, Franchot Tone, Joan stepped in and married him. The women worked together only once, in the classic thriller WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? in which their violent hatred of each other as rival sisters was no act.

‘Shaun Considine’s story of the two divas is vastly informative and in parts hilarious‘ SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

Fascinating and vastly entertaining . . . all you want is more’ TIME OUT

‘Considine’s well-researched book is an account of one of Hollywood’s most extraordinary relationships‘ DAILY EXPRESS

‘[A] Scurrilously readable twin biography’ MAIL ON SUNDAY

‘Considine’s dual biography is a guilty pleasure‘ SUNDAY HERALD

Brilliant, outrageous and hysterical‘ Suranne Jones (Star of BBC One’s Doctor Foster)

https://www.amazon.com/Bette-Joan-DIVINE-Shaun-Considine-ebook/dp/B00OKJWWWG/


Editorial Reviews

Review

Rip-Roading. A Definite 10! –New York Magazine

A candid, yet sympathetic account. Touching, nostalgic, and, above all, unforgettable. –Library Journal

Fascinating and vastly entertaining…all you want is more. –Time Out Magazine

From the Inside Flap

They were two of the most talented beauties Hollywood ever produced: the elegant Joan Crawford, a former chorus girl who shot through the ranks at MGM, and the brash, tempestuous Bette Davis, a Broadway star notorious for refusing to bow to the studio bosses. Their work together in the hit film “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” sowed the seeds for a mutual hatred that would consume their lives. As each fading star tried to outshine the other, lives were upended and reputations were destroyed. Glamorous, merciless, and cruel, their feud became the stuff of legends. Based on interviews the author conducted with both actresses and more than a decade of research, “Bette & Joan” shows the hard-drinking, hard-fighting duo at their best and worst. The epic story of these dueling divas is hilarious, monstrous, tragic, and the inspiration for the Ryan Murphy TV series “Feud” starring Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange. Now updated with two new chapters and a sixteen-page photo insert.

Author Shaun Considine
Author Shaun Considine

About the author:

Shaun Considine died in 2015 but I found an interesting interview here if you want to read about his other biographies.

https://mermaniablog.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/ethel-3s-shaun-considine/

My review:

The original version of this book was published in 1989, but a newly revised version was published in 2017. It contains a couple of new chapters (including a fascinating one about the new cover picture and its story), and a number of pictures from a photo shoot that took place during the filming of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? I had never read the original but I am familiar with both actresses and have watched some of their movies (although I didn’t know either of their stories in detail).

This is a fascinating book. It contains information about the lives and the careers of both actresses (including detailed references to the original sources, when the quotes or events narrated where not directly conveyed to the writer but came from other books or interviews), and it uses as sources conversations with the actresses, with co-workers, family members, employees, and also their own autobiographies, and those written about them by others. These two women, from very different origins and whose childhoods were miles apart but who somehow ended up working in the same industry, reached the pinnacle of their careers and became rivals, in the business and in their personal lives. Although I would not say that the book solves the mystery (the two women would at times deny that there was any rivalry between them, and even when they admitted it existed, they never gave a rational explanation for it), it does offer an interesting picture of both of these women, working in a very competitive industry, trying to ensure they got their due and maintained their status. If Joan Crawford was more focused on being a film star (and cultivated that image with her dresses, jewellery, glamour, and self-promotion), Bette Davis always claimed to being the more talented and professional actress of the two (even if the book shares moments when Davis acknowledged her admiration for her rival’s acting skills, although never to her face). Joan Crawford was a consummate self-promoter and public relations (it’s impossible not to think how well she would have fared in today’s Social Media-dominated environment), and created her own persona (perhaps because she did not have a strong sense of identity due to her unhappy childhood), while Davis seemed more sure of herself, and did not always take herself so seriously (although she could be vicious and was not a good sport when she felt threatened). They both managed to do well in an industry dominated by men, and that must have taken a very special kind of person (and personality).

Apart from the captivating lives of the actresses (and there is a bit of everything: promiscuity, terrible family relationships [the daughters of both actresses wrote less-than-complimentary books about their mothers], suspicious deaths, scandals, heavy alcohol use, loneliness, desperation, lost opportunities, adultery, abandonment, bitching…), the book creates an absorbing picture of Hollywood and how the industry changed over the years. The two actresses, who were there from almost the very beginning, reached the height of their careers when the big studios ruled over American cinema, and the book illustrates this well, as both actresses were on long-term contracts with one of the big studios of the era (Crawford with M.G.M and Davis with Warner Bros). We learn, first-hand, what the system was like, both for beginners and for established stars, and experience the changes that came with the end of the studios monopoly, that caught them at a difficult age (good parts for actresses of a certain age have always been scarce), and what those changes meant for them and for the industry at large.

There are plenty of anecdotes, and we read a lot about other people in the industry, about the movies they acted on, and their interaction with others. The book is easy to read, alternates chapters about the two stars, it is full of quotes and lets the stars (and those around them) speak for themselves, with little interference from the author. Although Considine talks about the process of creating the book and he clarifies facts when he thinks he has to (always using his research), the book is not heavy on analysis, it is very amusing and entertaining, and despite the odd repetition of some material (mostly, I imagine, in the additional chapters) if flows well and it feels shorter than it is.

The book might not contain lots of brand-new information for dedicated fans of both stars (although, as mentioned, the author does include his own research and his conversations with the actresses), but it is a treasure trove for those of us who have watched some of their movies but don’t know a lot about them. It is also a very entertaining way of getting an insider’s view of the Hollywood of their time, far easier and lighter than reading historical or business accounts. Furthermore, it is impossible to read this book and not think about recent events and issues of gender-politics that are much more openly discussed these days.

The book is full of memorable quotes and I laughed out loud many times. Although Davis is the sharpest wit, Crawford can hold her own…

‘Sex was God’s joke on human beings,’ said Bette Davis in her memoirs, which led Joan Crawford to suggest, ‘I think the joke’s on her.’

‘Joan always cries a lot,’ said Davis. ‘Her tear ducts must be very close to her bladder.’

‘Guilty? Bette Davis? Don’t be foolish,’ said George Cukor. ‘She is a star, and all stars learn how to cultivate one very important asset early in their career: a very short memory. They remember only what they want to remember.’

I recommend this book to Hollywood aficionados, to fans of both stars, and in general, to people interested in stardom, the movies, and the old Hollywood. Full of juicy gossip, great quotes, newly recovered photographs, and movie anecdotes, there isn’t a dull moment in this book.

(I know there is a recent TV series called Feuds, and the first season is based on this book, although it seems it is not mentioned anywhere, with Susan Sarandon playing Bette Davis and Jessica Lange playing Joan Crawford. I have not watched it but I’m very curious about it).

Thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

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Categories
book promo Book review Interviews

#Bookreview and interview THE CHRISTMAS TOWN by Donna VanLiere (@donnavanliere) A delightful story about a place we’d all like to call home

Hi all:

I know I’ve been resisting talking about Christmas related subjects, but the truth is that I’d been hiding an ace up my sleeve. A few weeks ago (it was in October) I read a book with a Christmas theme, from an author, Donna VanLiere, who writes a lot of Christmas stories. And yes, I must admit I loved it. When I got an e-mail from Justine Shaw, her publicist, reminding me of the launch of the book and offering an interview with the author, I thought I’d reserve it for an appropriate time. As the author has also been very busy touring with the book I only just got the questions back, so, right in time, here I bring you…

Review and interview The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere
The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere  A delightful story about a place we’d all like to call home

Donna VanLiere, New York Times bestselling author of the timeless The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Hope, is back with this moving and uplifting story about finding love, hope, and family in unexpected places.

Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.

When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?

Just in time for this year’s holiday season, Donna VanLiere is back with a moving and uplifting story about finding love, hope, and family in unexpected places, in THE CHRISTMAS TOWN (St. Martin’s Press, Oct. 18, 2016, $16.99)

My review:

My review is based on a free advance copy from St Martin’s Press via NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion or the review content.

OK, I’m not a big fan of Christmas. There, I’ve said it. The fuss, the mad rush to buy presents, the obligation to be happy… But there are certain things about Christmas I don’t mind, like the crafts fairs that pop up everywhere, some of the songs (although not when played continuously 24/7) or the books (and movies, but, especially the movies, I prefer them around the right time of the year. Watching a Christmas movie in August is a no-no).

Despite that, I could not resist requesting this book when I read the description, as I do like stories where a community gets together and people find a true home. And I’m happy I decided to read it.

The Christmas Town is fairly short, full of surprises (well, some not so surprising, but pleasant nonetheless), and it has a big heart. You have memorable characters (some very recognisable, like the woman who insists on using British expressions nobody understands, or the tall, dark and handsome romantic hero), some unique, like Ben, the young man who works at a grocery store and wins everybody’s heart by offering them personalised messages with their shopping. You have a great setting, and a suitably seasonal story, with auctions, personal objects, songs, and social media confusing things.

The story is told from several characters’ points of view (in the third person), although the main character is Lauren Gabriel, a young woman with a difficult childhood but full of dreams and hopes, despite her disappointments. She ends up in Grandon, a charming small-town, and although there are heartaches on the way… Well, this is a Christmas story, but I won’t spoil it for you.

There is humour, characters you’d love to know in real life, complications, chance, music, miracles and family. And a great sense of community. The story also touches on some sad issues (Lauren’s difficult childhood and her relationship with her estranged parents, children’s illnesses and disabilities, financial worries) but all dealt with a light touch.

If you want a light and heart-warming read with endearing characters and a place you’d love to call home, and you don’t mind Christmas (or even if you do) I recommend it. Ah, and don’t miss Ben’s messages. Priceless!

Links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-Town-Donna-VanLiere-ebook/dp/B01DJ0XZ72/

https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Town-Donna-VanLiere-ebook/dp/B01DJ0XZ72/

Here a bit of information about the author:

Author Donna VanLiere
Author Donna VanLiere

Donna VanLiere is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author and gifted conference speaker. She has published fourteen titles including The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Blessing, both of which were adapted into movies (starring Rob Lowe, Kimberly Williams-Perry and Neil Patrick Harris) and garnered big ratings for CBS television. LifetimeTelevision adapted The Christmas Hope (starring Madeline Stowe) and premiered it December 2009 to stellar ratings as well. Donna’s non-seasonal novel, The Angels of Morgan Hill, has captured the same warmth as her Christmas books and continues to please loyal and new fans alike.

Donna is the recipient of a Retailer’s Choice Award for Fiction, a Dove Award, a Silver Angel Award, an Audie Award for best inspirational fiction, a nominee for a Gold Medallion Book of the Year and was recently inducted into the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges Hall of Excellence joining such luminaries as Coretta Scott King, Hugh Downs, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Senator John Glenn. Donna is an in-demand conference speaker having appeared at countless women’s and family events, including select Women of Faith and Extraordinary Women conferences.

Donna lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with her husband, Troy, and their children, Grace, Kate and David.

Learn more at www.DonnaVanLiere.com

Interview: 

As I mentioned earlier, author Donna VanLiere agreed to answer some questions, and here they are.

Thanks very much for taking time from your busy schedule to answer a few questions. It’s an honour to have you as a guest on my blog.

You’ve written about other things too, but many of your books are seasonal, with a Christmas theme. What made you choose Christmas in particular?

Christmas is about hope and joy and the greatest story ever told. I feel like all of our stories are birthed out of the manger story. For me, it’s quite easy to develop a story around Christmas because for many people Christmas is difficult. I want each of my stories to be filled with characters who are like people you know, not cookie cutter characters. I want the reader to know that despite hard circumstances that hope is alive.

I love The Christmas Town. The setting (Grandon, a place where I’d love to live), the characters, the stories… Do you have a favourite?

I can’t choose a favorite among the Christmas stories because I love all of the characters!! My favorite book I’ve ever written is one called The Good Dream. It’s set in 1950 in East Tennessee and is about a single woman and a little boy and their journey together.

It’s difficult to choose, but Ben’s character is somebody we’d all love to meet. Can you tell us a bit more about his creation?

Ben bags groceries at the local supermarket. He is a pure, sweet soul who never meets a stranger. Several months before Christmas he decided he wanted to do something to make a difference as he bagged groceries. No one knew, not even Ben himself, how that one idea would inspire the townspeople.

Is there any specific message you’d like to send your readers?

We never really understand how important we are to someone else’s story. Our own story isn’t just about us. It’s about so many others around us. Just like in The Christmas Town you are not just a bag boy or a cashier or a waitress or a parks & recreation employee. You are an important character in someone else’s story.

Thanks so much to Donna VanLiere for answering my questions and for giving us this story that made even me (a bit of a grinch) feel more of the Christmas spirit. And thanks to you all for reading, and please, like, share, comment and CLICK!

 

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