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Summary

Summary

John Connolly conjures the Golden Age of Hollywood in this moving, literary portrait of two men who find their true selves in a comedic partnership. When Stan Laurel is paired with Oliver Hardy, affectionately known as Babe, the history of comedy--not to mention their personal and professional lives--is altered forever.
Yet Laurel's simple screen persona masks a complex human being, one who endures rejection and intense loss; who struggles to build a character from the dying stages of vaudeville to the seedy and often volatile movie studios of Los Angeles in the early years of cinema; and who is haunted by the figure of another comic genius, the brilliant, driven, and cruel Charlie Chaplin.

Eventually, Laurel becomes one of the greatest screen comedians the world has ever known: a man who enjoys both adoration and humiliation; who loved, and is loved in turn; who betrays, and is betrayed; who never seeks to cause pain to anyone else, yet leaves a trail of affairs and broken marriages in his wake.
But Laurel's life is ultimately defined by one relationship of such astonishing tenderness and devotion that only death could sever this profound connection: his love for Babe. Shot through with the competing themes of loyalty and heartbreak, ambition and selflessness, artistry and compromise, this novel is an unforgettable testament to the redemptive power of love, as experienced by one of the twentieth century's greatest performers.


Author Notes

John Connolly is author of the Charlie Parker mysteries, The Book of Lost Things , the Samuel Johnson novels for young adults and, with his partner, Jennifer Ridyard, the coauthor of the Chronicles of the Invaders series. His debut, Every Dead Thing, swiftly launched him into the top rank of thriller writers, and all his subsequent novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers. He was the first non-American writer to win the US Shamus award, and the first Irish writer to be awarded the Edgar by the Mystery Writers of America.


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The stars of the silent film era were among the most beloved celebrities of their time, including Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and, of course, Charlie Chaplin, the diminutive giant in whose shadow the others lived. Connolly, author of the Charlie Parker mystery series, tells the story of Chaplin's one-time understudy, Arthur Stanley Jefferson, better known as Stan Laurel. While Chaplin emerged as the world's biggest star, Laurel met with moderate success in a string of two-reel comedies until he paired up with Oliver Babe Hardy, and they became the most successful comedic duo in Hollywood history. Connolly's tender double portrait is a love story about the astoundingly loyal friendship between these two quiet, immensely talented yet equally troubled men as they navigated the corrupt studio system, their failed marriages, the invasive press, and battles with their own demons. Connolly's love is evident in his impressive amount of research on and deep knowledge of his subject. The golden age of Hollywood is vividly and authentically drawn, with asides about the gossip, bed-hopping, drug use, untimely deaths, and subsequent obituaries that began with the phrase, Formally in Pictures. This dazzling and altogether wonderful book sets a new standard for the biographical historical novel.--Kelly, Bill Copyright 2018 Booklist


Library Journal Review

The subject of this extraordinary novel is movie comic Stan Laurel (1890-1965). But he's never referred to by name. It's always "he," "his," or "him." The conceit should be off-putting but somehow isn't. It works, mirroring how Laurel sees himself: never at peace, only completed (and for the moment) when working with his partner "Babe," Oliver Hardy, the fat man to his skinny one in classic comedy skits that span the ages of silent films and talkies. Laurel is obsessed with Charlie Chaplin, always a step ahead of him in the comedy world. He realizes he can't match Chaplin but knows, too, that he's done good work. They'd performed together in early years. Why doesn't Chaplin even mention him in his memoirs? The novel cycles back and forth across the comic's long often harrowing career-drinking, womanizing, seven marriages to four women. He reminisces on his successes and failures but most of all on the loss of Babe, his mate, who completed a sad man who otherwise never felt whole. Verdict Connolly (Charlie Parker mysteries) makes his literary debut with this exceptional novel about a comic genius who never fully came to terms with his own worth. Who wouldn't want to read this lovely book?-David Keymer, Cleveland © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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