Reader reviews and comments on The Girls in the Picture, plus links to write your own review.

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The Girls in the Picture

by Melanie Benjamin

The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin X
The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2018, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2019, 464 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
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Diane D.

Interesting Movie History
This book kept giving me more surprises as it went on. I hadn't realized that Mary Pickford was the first star of silent pictures, nor that she carried that over into Talkies & was the first in so many things. I did know that she and Douglas Fairbanks were married, but their lives blew me away.

The relationship between Mary and her best friend, Frances Marion, surprised me with it's constancy & intensity, because I kept expecting it to fall apart. When it didn't, I was surprised at all the changes in their lives over the years. A lot of the things Mary did disappointed me, because I wasn't expecting them of her. Frances' life was more what I wanted to read; I guess she just felt more like a real person to me. I had to give her a lot of credit for trying to help Mary at the end, since I don't know if I'd have been able to do it.

The book was very well written, and I enjoyed reading it, though I wish there had been more at the end.
Power Reviewer
Betty Taylor

A Test of Friendship
I thoroughly enjoyed “The Girls in the Picture” by Melanie Benjamin and learned a lot from it. That is why I have come to love the genre of historical fiction – I always learn something new. I knew very little about the early days of the movie industry and nothing really about Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. This book is the story of the intense friendship between Frances and Mary. In the era of silent films, Mary Pickford was loved and adored by everyone in America. Much of her popularity was due to the excellent screenwriting of Frances Marion, a true pioneer of her time.

Ms. Benjamin took me into the glitz and glamour of the time, and also the intense rivalries. From stage productions to silent films to “the talkies”, she brought it all to life. It was no secret that this was a man’s world, but Mary and Frances broke into that world and made it their own.
Mary had to work from a very early age to support her siblings and her mother. Thus she never had a childhood, and never had a friend - until she met Frances. They understood each other and, more so, Frances understood and shared Mary’s passion for the film world. Frances instinctively knew how to write for the character.

The book addresses the history of the film companies and the partnerships and mergers that took place. Many of the best known names appear in the story – Cecil B. DeMille, Adolph Zukor, Louis B. Mayer, Charlie Chaplin, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, and more.

The latter portion of the book addresses the tumultuous love affair and marriage of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Mary and Frances had promised each other that they would never let men come between them. (How often have we heard that one?) As Mary ages and finally is no longer able to maintain the persona of the little girl with the golden curls she loses her fans and her husband. Thus begins her downward spiral into alcohol and insanity.

In the meantime, Frances has maintained a more realistic view of life, especially after spending time in Europe filming the impact of the war on women. Frances has also been “struck anew by how universal my world was, how what we did on a soundstage in Hollywood could travel across the ocean to the battlefields of France.”

Frances soon recognizes that Mary is losing touch with reality and fights to save her lifelong friend. But can she after all the accusations of jealousy and blame Mary throws at her? This is a true test of friendship.
Power Reviewer
lani

Surreptitious delight
A fascinating look at still movies and beyond through the lens of Mary Pickford and Frances Marion from the 1914-1969. How prescient of Benjamin to examine the sexual misconduct and the treatment of women as second class citizens in the movie industry. With the current climate, this could not have come at a more opportune moment. I love when a novel engages you but also teaches you about a pivotal time in the Hollywood scene, as well as the effects of war on the industry as well. But mostly this is a story of two women's friendship, with power imbalances and balances.Admittedly, I knew nothing about Frances Marion and was astonished at how much she had created in her life, while Mary Pickford's name seems to have stood the test of time. This engaging book should hook many a woman who loves romance, friendship, movies and women's rights...I think that covers a large swath of the female race.
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Beyond the Book:
  The Birth of Moving Pictures

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