Recommended-books-Trigiani-Barrows

This Week’s Recommended Books

All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani

The “golden age” of Hollywood has always been fascinating to many people and in All the Stars in the Heavens,  Trigiani gives us a glimpse of many unforgettable stars, Spencer Tracy, David Niven, and Myrna Loy; portraying Hollywood in its early years and the behind the scenes romances.

But the main storyline is the affair between Loretta Young and Clark Gable during the filming of  The Call of the Wild.  The story is told from the perspec tive of Loretta and her companion/secretary Alda describing their lives from the early 1930’s and beyond.

I found the story interesting and it was an easy read but I normally would not choose to pick up this type of book but would prefer to pick up a biography instead.

If you love People Magazine and the glitz and glamour of Hollywood at that time, you should definitely like this book.

Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

It’s the summer of 1938 and the story takes places in a small mill town in West Virginia. The Truth According to Us is told in a series of letters and from the perspectives of Layla Beck, and Jottie and Willa Romeyn.

Layla Beck an overindulged U.S. senator’s daughter, is forced by her father to get a job and is hired by the Federal Writers’ Project, to write the history of of Macedonia, West Virginia for its Sesquicentennial. Layla is not happy, to put it mildly, to find to find herself in this situation but she digs in, hoping to prove to her family she can do the job. She ends up boarding in an old home owned by the once prominent Romeyn family; whose fates changed after a series of scandals, including a fire at the hosiery factory the family once owned.

The Romeyn family, consists of Felix and Jottie, brother and sister, the twin sisters Minerva and Mae and Felix’s children, Willa a precocious 12 year old and her sister Bird.

As Layla wends her way through various interviews of the leading Macedonian citizens, trying to sort factual from fictional accounts she comes to realize that she is expected to write the history in a way to show the community in a positive light, no matter what.  But, everyone she interviews has their own version of the town’s history and their family’s place in it.

While Willa, who reminds me of Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, is determined to use the ”Macedonian virtues of ferocity and devotion” to learn the truth about her family and to keep Layla away from her father.

As the town librarian Ms. Betts wisely cautions: “There is a problem with history. All of us see a story according to our own lights. None of us are capable of objectivity.”  Therefore the title: The Truth According to Us.

Barrows’ writing depicts a small town atmosphere, gatherings on the front porch, the quirky characters, a town where everyone knows everyone’s business and the oppressive heat.  She aptly describes the effects of the depression, people losing their jobs, strikes and bootlegging have on the town.  I enjoyed this book, the characters are well drawn and the descriptions about that time period seems spot on, the story is a little long in spots and the outcome a bit predictable.

— Donette J.

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