Adriana Trigiani – All the Stars in the Heavens (Literature Review)

Adriana Trigiani enchants readers with her latest novel, All the Stars in the Heavens.

Trigiani is well-known for creating a gem of a story. Her books have been highly praised worldwide by those in the know and she has even found success in Hollywood – in 2014 The Big Stone Gap was turned into a film starring Ashley Judd, Whoopi Goldberg and Australia’s own Anthony LaPaglia. She has also tried her hand at writing for television, film-making and even won awards for her accomplishments as a playwright.

In this fictional tale, Trigiani sets the backdrop of the Golden Age of Hollywood with such flair that the reader feels as though they were actually there. Combine this with characters that are as vivid, loveable and complex as they were in real life and you’ve got a winner.

Loretta Young is the brightest starlet in Hollywood. Picking and choosing her projects, she is able to make more money than many an actress on the road to stardom could ever dream of. Having already been married and divorced in her early 20s, she loves hard and as a result, is often left heartbroken when her leading man leaves her for the next project or returns to the loving embrace of their abandoned wife as soon as the director calls “CUT!” on the final day of filming. Despite her bad experiences, she is hungry for affection and finds it in the arms of megastar Clark Gable when they work on The Call of The Wild together. True love, it seems, has finally found her.

Former novice, Sister Alda Ducci is thrown in the deep end when evicted from her convent and sent to work for Young. Despite the family’s warm welcome, she questions her presence in the lives of the rich and famous – the glitter and glamour seems at odds with the vows she was on the cusp of taking. She spends most of her time helping out on set or answering letters from Loretta’s fans – enjoyable but mainly menial work, definitely not the life she had envisioned for herself upon abandoning her family for the convent all those years ago. Little does she know that Loretta is about to need her guidance and friendship more than ever.

Told mainly in dual perspectives (that of Alda and Loretta), the story is complete, showing in true form the glamour of the time period as well as the anguish that always seems to accompany such fame. From beginning to end, I was hooked, often wondering about the characters’ fate when I wasn’t reading the book. For an author to create a tale that is so captivating is the hallmark of a great writer, in my opinion.

I try not to hold much stock in the quotes on the back of the book endearing the author and her work to the reader – often they are taken out of context and manipulated for promotional purposes – but in this case, I have to agree with the author of The Help, Kathryn Stockett’s assessment of her fellow writer’s efforts, “If you’re meeting her work for the first time, get ready for a lifelong love affair.”

Michael Jackson – Off The Wall (Album Review)

There’s no disputing the legend that was Michael Jackson. Recognised worldwide as the King of Pop, he had more than a handful of number one hits to earn him this well-deserved title. Even after his death, his influence in the music industry remains as strong as it was when he was alive, with artists such as Beyoncé, Pharrell and Kendrick Lamar citing him as one of their idols.

michael jackson

(c) Michael Jackson in This Is It

By the time Off The Wall was first released in 1979, Michael Jackson was already well known as the cute kid with a sweet voice from the Jackson 5. This album introduced the then 20 year old artist to the world as a legitimate solo musician, thus changing the face of pop music forever.

As Jackson’s first solo album with Epic Records, it marked his transition from Motown to pop music and would become defining album of the genre, one which Rolling Stone said, “invented modern pop music as we know it.”

Fast forward to 2016 and it has sold over 30 million copies worldwide (a number which, no doubt increases as each day passes) and has reached platinum standard no less than eight times in the US, six times in the UK and five times in Australia.

michael jackson off the wall

Click above to get your copy of this classic album

From a technical point of view, Off The Wall united some of the best musicians, songwriters and producers in the business, containing tracks written by Jackson himself, as well as Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney (to name but a few). Some of the songs featured on this release include Rock With You and Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, tracks which fast became fan favourites and solidified Jackson’s success in the music industry. For those who preferred the softer side of Jackson’s vocals (such as that evident in the Jackson 5’s Ben), there’s She’s Out of My Life and I Can’t Help It.

When it comes down to it, Off The Wall was just one of Jackson’s many hit albums and its recent re-release through Sony Music is just further evidence of its genius. Jackson created a world of musical escapism, exploring his musicality in ways that had never been seen before.

Whether you’re an MJ devotee or a just a fan of music in general, this album is a classic.

(This article was originally published in Art Of Sound Magazine)