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.”

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