Author Kate Alcott tells a beautiful story of mother and daughter relationships set against the glamour of 1950s Hollywood and the darkness of the McCarthy years in this interesting and intelligent novel, The Hollywood Daughter.
I’m kind of an easy date when it comes to stories about Hollywood, much as I try to act like a grown-up reader. Last year I read All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani, which is a novel about the love affairs between Loretta Young and Clark Gable. I ate it up like an ice cream cone on a hot day. So when I came across The Hollywood Daughter, it was a given that I would read this novel that ties closely to Hollywood legend Ingrid Bergman’s controversial relationship with Roberto Rossellini. Controversial at the time, that is. Nowadays it would be quite a ho-hum relationship.
Jessica Malloy is a young girl at the beginning of the novel, the daughter of a Hollywood publicist for actress Ingrid Bergman. Jessica’s mother is distant and apparently clinically depressed, since she spends much of the novel in bed. In the absence of her mother, Jessica feels a connection to Bergman, who appears to have it all going for her. The connection isn’t just something Jessica dreams of; in fact, because she goes to a fancy-dancy school in Beverly Hills and Bergman’s daughter is on the carpool list, and because Jessica’s father is Bergman’s publicist, Jessica actually gets to know the actress.
Years go by and Bergman disappoints her devoted fans by falling in love with Rossellini, getting pregnant with his child, divorcing her husband and moving to Italy. At the same time, Senator McCarthy’s hearings begin and everyone is looking at everyone else, wondering just who are the bad guys. The atmosphere directly impacts Jessica’s father and their family dynamics.
It was fun to get some historical perspective of the times through the eyes of Jessica, from a small girl up until young adulthood. The background about Bergman was interesting, especially given just how the times compare to today’s Hollywood goings-on.
The Hollywood Daughter was a fun read and an interesting historical perspective.