blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Strangers in the Night – Heather Webb

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.

Heather Webb is the award-winning and USA Today bestselling author of The Last Ship Home, The Phantom’s Apprentice, Rodin’s Lover, and Becoming Josephine. Heather is also a freelance editor, and teaches craft courses at a local college. Her novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages, worldwide. She lives in Connecticut with her family and one feisty rabbit.

My thoughts: like the author I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra as played by my Grandad – first on vinyl and then on CD. I can still remember him soft shoe shuffling round the living room saying “this is the song, this is the song!” So I was intrigued to read a novel based on his controversial relationship with second wife Ava Gardner.

He was still married to Nancy, mother of Frank Jr, Nancy and Tina, when he met film star Gardner, who was at the time married to fellow actor Mickey Rooney. Hence the controversy. Although she was single when their affair really started, and in this book pushes him to do the right thing and divorce Nancy, rather than be his mistress.

Drawing from various sources, including official biographies, this book charts their volatile marriage, both parties affairs, the rows, the separation, their lifelong friendship, up to Ava’s sad death in her London flat from a pneumonia related condition.

She was incredibly beautiful, and talented, but never felt like she attained the fame that she wanted. He was the bigger star, but was going through a career lull when they married, but would go on to win an Oscar and bounce back in both film and music. They were a volatile combination, both with massive egos, career driven and terminally unfaithful (him more than her).

It’s an incredibly fascinating read, hard to say how much is fact and how much the author’s creation. Neither wrote an autobiography, although Tina Sinatra wrote about her dad, and was perhaps best placed to do so, and the author draws on this book.

It is however a fun insight into the glamorous world they lived in, there’s a lot of name dropping, although these are their friends and co-stars, from Lana Turner to the Rat Pack, Montgomery Clift to Grace Kelly. Hollywood in its heyday.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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