Melanie Benjamin presents THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE a Novel

The Girls in the Picture

An intimate portrait of the close friendship and powerful creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female superstars: Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. An enchanting new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife.

Hollywood, 1914. Frances Marion, a young writer desperate for a break, meets “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, already making a name for herself both on and off the screen with her golden curls and lively spirit. Together, these two women will take the movie business by storm.

Mary Pickford becomes known as the “Queen of the Movies”—the first actor to have her name on a movie marquee, and the first to become a truly international celebrity. Mary and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, were America’s first Royal Couple, living in a home more famous that Buckingham Palace. Mary won the first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Talkie and was the first to put her hand and footprints in Grauman’s theater sidewalk. Her annual salary in 1919 was $625,000—at a time when women’s salaries peaked at $10 a week. Frances Marion is widely considered one of the most important female screenwriters of the 20th century, and was the first writer to win multiple Academy Awards. The close personal friendship between the two stars was closely linked to their professional collaboration and success.

This is a novel about power: the power of women during the exhilarating early years of Hollywood, and the power of forgiveness. It’s also about the imbalance of power, then and now, and the sacrifices and compromises women must make in order to succeed. And at its heart, it’s a novel about the power of female friendship.

As a fan of old movies, this was a story I read with delight! From the very beginning of the film industry until 1969 we follow the stories of Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. While the author makes it clear that there is truth and fiction mixed in and she has done a wonderful job of splicing the two.

All of the big names are here, Douglas Fairbanks, the Gish sisters, Charlie Chaplin and so many more. This is a powerful story of women in a time when they were treated as inferior. And much like today, the film industry had its share of powerful men who took full advantage of the young actors flocking to California with dreams of becoming a star. The story couldn’t be more relevant than right now. Basically we see not much has changed for a lot of women in the industry.

But Frances and Mary take charge of their own fate and create their own stories. One who has been acting since she was a child, becoming the bread-winner early in her life and one who wanted to write and film stories with strong women and neither ever backed down. A book of strong woman and the inequality between women and men then and now.

From the first “flickers’ to the first talkies and color, this book was stunning!

Netgalley/Delacorte Press January 16, 2018

13 thoughts on “Melanie Benjamin presents THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE a Novel

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