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It is not a spoiler to share that the first scene of THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE is the beginning of the final chapter—a genius move by author Melanie Benjamin. I flipped through the pages enthralled, needing to understand how the great Mary Pickford, a glamorous 1920s actress, had happened upon such a sad ending personally.

While Mary is the hook, for me, the depth and beauty of the story sprung from her best friend, Frances Marion. I had never heard of this ambitious, talented screenwriter who lived her life on her terms at a time when most women did not. Despite many opportunities to act, Frances preferred to remain behind the scenes.

I couldn’t even imagine painting up my face and exposing myself to the whirring, unblinking eye of the camera. As superstitious as it sounded, there was something to the old Indian belief that the camera stole your soul.

I found Marion’s story and inner-strength captivating. The passion she had for her work—the gratitude she felt for the opportunity to write films—was powerful.

I was tumbling to sleep, the best I’d ever had in my life. Sleep well earned, sleep absolutely necessary because tomorrow would be exactly as exciting, fulfilling, and exhausting. It’s only when you have no idea what you’re going to do tomorrow that sleep is elusive, I realized. Because you haven’t given yourself permission to deserve it.

This timely, well-crafted piece of historical fiction is absolutely worth the read. Congratulations, Melanie Benjamin, on another wonderful book.

See our Reading Guide for The Girls in the Picture.

 


Abby Fabiaschi
After working for years in technology, Abby turned to writing, and in 2017 her debut novel,
I LIKED MY LIFE, was published by St. Martin’s Press. She’s also a human rights advocate, and when she’s not busy watching “the comedy show that is her children,” she manages to find time for one of her favorite activities, reading. Visit Abby’s website.

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