Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Glimmer Palace by Beatrice Colin

Glimmer Palace by Beatrice Colin book cover historical fictionThe Glimmer Palace
by Beatrice Colin
Riverhead, 2008
416 pages
Historical fiction
Personal copy

Summary in a Sentence:

Lilly Nelly Aphrodite takes her first breath in Berlin as the 20th century dawns and keeps right on going until she is Germany's top silent film star.

My Thoughts:

Ever since I watched the German silent film Metropolis last year, I've been deeply fascinated with the early film industry. This novel follows Lilly Aphrodite from the dawn of the 20th century to the eve of World War II and gives readers an intimate glimpse into the world of Germany in the throes of World War I and the decadence of the 1920s German film industry.

An interesting facet of the novel that sets it aside from other historical fiction is the structure. At the beginning of every chapter, the author opens with short unconnected stories about the German film industry and an accompanying photo from turn of the century Germany. The photos above and below were among those included in the book. I love historical fiction because it is an imagined story based on real events. These vignettes and photos help connect the reader with the era and the characters.

silent film star Pola Negri
Silent film star Pola Negri

Besides All Quiet on the Western Front, this is the first book I've read set in World War I. Reading about the complete devastation of the citizens of Germany in a textbook is one thing, but reading about it from the standpoint of Lilly personalizes the loss and poverty that was so widespread and gives the reader a glimpse as to  how these circumstances led to the rise of Hitler in the '30s.

For fans of historical fiction as well as the history of cinema.

This book counts towards the Random Reading Challenge.

Rating: 4/5

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Other Reviews:

Read reviews from The Tome Traveller's Blog, Bookgirl's Nightstand, and A Writer's Pen.


Amanda said...

Metropolis is one of my very favorite movies! I actually want the novelization of it that one of the screenwriters wrote afterwards (Thea Von Harbou, wife of Fritz Lang, the other screenwriter and director). Because parts of Metropolis were lost, the book is the only place where they exist now.

German expressionism is a fascinating subject.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Oh, man. I'm so glad I have seen Metropolis. It is just a breathtaking film. I didn't realize there was a novelization. Thanks for the info!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I've heard the title of this book, but it didn't really catch my interest. Your review has me thinking that I should read it - a good way to make WWI history accessible and personal.

Lisa said...

I haven't heard of this one but it sounds fascinating and very different.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This one sirs on my shelf. So I'm happy to see that you liked this book. I enjoyed your review.

Unknown said...

For some reason this book is called The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite in the UK. I enjoyed it a lot, but thought the ending was a bit of a let down.

She has a new book coming out next year: The Songwriter. I hope it is as good as this one.

Marie Cloutier said...

i have this book in my stash somewhere; i got the galley ages ago and never got to it. thanks for this great review- it helps it stand out on the shelf for me. :-)

Kirthi said...

I've read a lot of World War 11, but never 1! The cover is gorgeous, and so is the title! Great review!

Wanda said...

I read I Still Have a Suitcase in Berlin in November. Glimmer Palace sounds equally interesting as a HF read.

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