eBook - 2009
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On a winter day in 1916 American capitalism, a world at war, and the emerging mecca of Hollywood intersect to spawn an enduring culture of celebrity. Charlie Chaplin is spotted in more than eight hundred places simultaneously, an extraordinary delusion that brings together the fortunes of three men: Leland Wheeler, son of the world's last (and worst) Wild West star, as he finds unexpected love on the battlefields of France; Hugo Black, drafted to fight under the towering General Edmund Ironside in America's doomed expedition against the Bolsheviks; and Chaplin himself, as he faces a tightening vise of complications--studio moguls, questions about his patriotism, his unchecked heart, and, most menacing of all, "his mother."
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
ISBN: 9780307271945
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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Cdnbookworm Sep 10, 2011

This is a very complex novel with several storylines.
It begins on November 12, 1916 with a day where there were sightings of Charlie Chaplin in many places (a real historical happening). The book follows not only Chaplin himself, but also Leland Wheeler (aka Lee Duncan) a young man who witnesses one of the sightings and risks his life in trying to reach Chaplin. Leland has a dream of being on the big screen, and despite several setbacks, never lets that dream go. We also follow another young man, Hugo Black, who goes on to be an American soldier fighting in Russia, an extension of the first World War that is little acknowledged. There are several other figures we move on at different times: generals, actors, young women with their own agenda, but the three young men, Chaplin, Leland, and Hugo are the primary focus.
With scenes from Hollywood to Germany, France to Russia, the environment varies widely. We see the rise of actors' rights in Hollywood, the terror and tragedy of World War One, the bleakness of the Russian campaign. We see the loss of dreams and the achievement of dreams. We see families and the dynamics that take place within them. There is sadness and joy here, and much to take in.
The author has included historical figures and events along with fictional ones, and it is interesting to see the linkages. We see the beginning of the career of Rin Tin Tin here as well.

May 19, 2011

I had high hopes for this book because I loved the author's previous novel, Carter Beats the Devil. I'm happy I stuck with it, but it did not live up to my expectations.


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