Strangers in the Night by Heather Webb
I love old Hollywood glamour and many of my favourite film stars are ones from the 1950s and 1960s, so I was intrigued to read this novel based on Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner.
At the beginning of the novel, in the prologue, Frank Sinatra meets Ava Gardner, but Ava is married to Mickey Rooney. We then go to Part One of the novel, set between 1946 and 1949. The novel goes right up to 1990 and is written in chapters from Frank and Ava’s points of view. Despite Frank being married to Nancy, he can’t help his attraction to Ava and something keeps throwing them together until their relationship becomes an obsession.
As Frank is losing sponsors and record sales by being controversial and hitting the odd photographer, Ava’s trajectory as a star is definitely on the up. As she finally gets the kind of film roles she deserves, her fame increases.
I absolutely loved this book. The writing style is beautiful and it was easy to get into. I read each chapter from Frank or Ava’s viewpoint in distinct voices and both came across as very authentic. Although it is a work of fiction, it is obviously well-researched and it all rings true, despite there being some artistic licence. I felt I learned a lot about the two main characters, but also about many other famous names mentioned as well as the way Hollywood worked at the time.
I haven’t read a book quite like this and I thought it was great. I hadn’t read any of Heather Webb’s previous novels, but will be looking out for them in the future.
It was the tumultuous romance that scandalized the world: Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner fought, loved, and lived life to the hilt. Now their unbridled story is brought vividly to life by Heather Webb, the bestselling author of Meet Me in Monaco and The Next Ship Home.
In the golden age of Hollywood, two of the brightest stars would define—and defy—an era…
She was the small-town southern beauty transformed into a Hollywood love goddess. He was the legendary crooner whose voice transfixed the world. They were Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra. Separately they were irresistible; together they were an explosive combination.
Ava’s star is rising just as Frank’s career—and public image as a family man—is taking a hit. Gone are the days of the screaming bobbysoxers and chart-topping hits. Ava, however, finds herself gracing the front page of every tabloid in America. Jealousy and cheating abound, and when the two succumb to their temperaments and their vices, their happiness is threatened at every turn.
As the pair ride the rollercoaster of success and failure, passion and anger, they both wonder if the next turn will be the end of their careers, and most devastating of all—the end of all they’ve shared.
A captivating novel with a star-studded cast spanning continents and decades, Strangers in the Night brings to life the most riveting love story of the twentieth century.