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Frank & Ava: Book summary and reviews of Frank & Ava by John Brady

Frank & Ava

In Love and War

by John Brady

Frank & Ava by John Brady X
Frank & Ava by John Brady
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2015
    304 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

The love story of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner has been told piecemeal, from one side or the other, but has never been fully explored or explained - until now.

The story begins in Hollywood's golden age when Ava, ever insecure, was emerging as a movie star. But she fell in (and out of) love too easily. Mickey Rooney married her as a conquest. Artie Shaw treated her like a dumb brunette. Neither marriage lasted a year. Then, after being courted by Howard Hughes and others, along came Sinatra, who was battling his own insecurities - MGM fired him, his record company dropped him, and no one seemed to want him, except Ava.

Their encounter led to an affair that broke all the rules of the prudish era. Frank was married with children. Their reputations could be ruined if this got out - and it did, as Frank left his family and pursued Ava across Europe while she taunted him. They married, but then came quarrels, separations, and reconciliations. Finally, there was a divorce, but even afterwards their long, hot, messy, glorious, painful romance stretched right to the finish line.

Thoroughly researched and reported, Frank & Ava is not another storybook version of a Hollywood romance but a compelling drama of love and emotional war that left two iconic celebrities wounded for life.

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Media Reviews

"The repeated ups and downs of the Sinatra-Gardner relationship and careers become tiresome, but Brady knows how to keep readers turning pages all the way to the end of Sinatra's career, when everything that he had collected was sold at auction. Anyone remotely curious about either of these larger-than-life characters will want to read Brady's book." - Publishers Weekly

"This honest and contemporary look at an almost mythical couple is a quick-paced and poignant tale that will appeal to a wide spectrum of readers." - Library Journal

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Reader Reviews

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Chris W. (Temple City, CA)

A sad, dysfunctional relationship ...
Having grown up with a mother who adored Frank Sinatra and played his music almost every day, I felt I knew a lot about him and his on-and-off, dysfunctional relationship with Ava. However, I gained more insight and learned so much about their careers and them, both together and separate, in this book. Most of the time the narrative read like a page turner. Sometimes there were just a few paragraphs that covered a specific incident, but these shorter sections didn't seem smoothly connected and it felt more like the author was simply presenting events he had researched in chronological order. What were Frank and Ava doing in the timeframes between those events? I also learned a lot about many other stars during that period and how their lives were involved with Frank and Ava. That was a bonus and quite enlightening. I hope the final publication has pictures. How did they look at the end of their lives? I will be passing this book on to my mother and her friends. Anyone who is a fan of Sinatra or who wants to learn more about the stars of that era will enjoy this book.

Karen L. (Wilton, IA)

A fascinating look at old Hollywood
I couldn't put it down. It was a quick read for me. I enjoyed learning more about 2 stars I didn't know much about. I also got a glimpse of other stars lives like Bogart and Bacall. I thought it was sad that Frank loved Ava so much but they couldn't make it work. I think the book would appeal to Frank Sinatra and /or Ava Gardner fans. It would also appeal to fans of old movies and old Hollywood.

Dorothy G. (Naperville, IL)

Hard to put down!
I have read several books on Frank Sinatra and also books on Ava Gardner. While they all touch on the relationship between Ava and Frank, it is more a skim. This book follows the relationship from start to finish --- a romance that never really died. Great segments about Bogart, Bacall, Jerry Lewis, Grace Kelly Hemingway, etc. Ava and Frank were Hollywood royalty and seemed to touch every other star at some point in their careers/relationships. So many great side stories were woven into this story and every one relevant and interesting. Hated to put the book down and hated for it to end. A wonderful guided tour through two peoples' lives. Cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Gunta K. (Glens Falls, NY)

Magnificent Ol'Blue Eyes
Those of us of a certain age who have been fortunate enough to hear and see Frank Sinatra perform in person, either in a grand concert or Vegas will appreciate this book by John Brady as we have seen, in person, all of Frank's antics and outbursts. We have listened to his dreamy voice and actually still do, on CD, on Sirius, in our homes and in restaurants. He is the man for a certain generation. Unforgettable.

Ava Gardner was elegant, lithe, beautiful. Her throaty voice and movements like a cat were and are marvelous. Again those of us of a certain age watched every film of hers as they came out. She was particularly impressive in "Mogambo".

John Brady has taken the events in the lives of those two and presented them to us in a way which makes us go down memory lane. Theirs and our own. He also describes Frank's wife Nancy and his mother. The environment that shaped Frank.
Ava born in a shack in the South, five sisters. No education but mesmerizing beauty. This book depicts her as a woman who did what she wanted , how she wanted to do it and when she wanted to do it. Takes courage, willpower, spirit.
Their fights were legendary, their lavish life style, their not welcome back at certain high end hotels during their life time were fodder for newspapers of those times. Their love of life and love for each other. A great book, very readable and most enjoyable.

Janis H. (Willow Street, PA)

Frank and Ava in Love and War
Tabloids feed us a daily diet of the fortunes and misfortunes of our entertainment idols, but the plethora of scandals we absorb pale in comparison to the firestorm that Frank Sinatra "The Voice of the 40s" created when he divorced his nice Italian wife Nancy to marry screen siren Ava Gardner. As revealed in Ava and Frank In Love and War, Louis B. Mayer micromanaged the lives of the MGM screen goddesses and heart throbs like Ava Gardner and Clark Gable. 2015 fans who take a trip down memory lane while reading this book might be dismayed to learn that all that glittered was not gold for the actors who played their roles in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Ava and Frank's marriage did not last long, but their love for each other consumed them throughout their adult lives. This book is both informative and hauntingly sad. Most importantly, it revisits two people, now deceased, who captured the minds of millions of fans nearly eighty years ago. It is a good read for fans of movie history. I am strongly recommending it.

Kathy G. (Danville, CA)

Frank and Ava
I have loved everything about the Golden Age of Movies. After reading the book, I have changed my mind. The book was half history of the time(well researched) and half sexual conquests. I enjoyed the book but at the same time, saddened that the movie producers and the actors were not very respective of one another. It read like THE NATIONAL INQUIRER. Guess things are not much different now. I guess if one really wants to know about Hollywood during the Golden Age, FRANK AND AVA would be the book to read.

...13 more reader reviews

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Author Information

John Brady

John Brady is a veteran editor and author of five books, including The Craft of the Screenwriter and the investigative biography, Bad Boy: The Life & Politics of Lee Atwater. In the 1970s, while working for Reprise Records, he met Sinatra and many of the singer's colleagues whom he interviewed after Frank's death in 1998. He lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

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