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The Limits of Limelight

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Member Reviews

Margaret Porter has done an impressive job of assembling the cast of her novel of the Golden Age of Hollywood: Ginger Rogers and her mother Lela, Peg Entwhistle, Mary Blackford, Katherine Hepburn, and so many more! There are some great descriptions that made me go back and check out some of the old movies mentioned in the book.

Sadly, though, I’m not sure that readers who don’t already know who these characters are will be able to keep them straight. Much of the characterization was supplied by what I already knew about them rather than from this novel. Phyllis Fraser, the purported protagonist, is an enigma to me still. I learned a lot about her, but I don’t know her any better now than I would have from a wiki article. Things happen to Phyllis, but she is not much of an actor on her own behalf except for an ambition to write.

There were often things that came up that a commentary or reaction from Phyllis would have been helpful. She reacts a bit to the Christian Science of Lela Rogers, saying she relied more on doctors than prayers, but it comes off as an intellectual rather than an emotional reaction. She has no reaction to Lela’s hatred of Roosevelt, labor, socialists and communists—some reaction would have been nice.

The book is more than a historical re-enactment, but not by much. However, I did enjoy the exposure to a little known actress, although her life after the book seems more interesting than her Hollywood years that the book covers.
(review to be published on 10/1)
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I'm so sorry to say that while this book held my interest enough to finish, the writing didn't invest me emotionally in the characters. Instead, the narrative felt stilted and forced. And the writing seemed fixated on telling us unnecessary details.

I found some of the name-dropping interesting, especially when the movies got a little more towards the 1940s and the author's pages at the end of the book were fascinating. I love hearing how Ms. Porter researched this book. However, this was the only redeeming value for me. 

 I know that this book is a bit fictional (the conversations at the very least), But the rest was biographical. If this is true, and I've no reason to doubt this, Ginger Rogers and her Mother, Lela was selfish and spoiled. But I suppose that was the era and the manner in which these women grew up.

There was so much tragedy in this novel.

At any rate, if you like fictional biographies of old-time stars, I think you will like this book much more than I did. On that note, I do recommend this book to those who loved Ginger Rogers-this book was so very much about her, really.

*ARC supplied by the publisher, the author, and NetGalley.
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Loved every page. Great writing style. Recommend for a book club for women of all ages and races. Thanks for the opportunity to read this.
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Welcome to 1930 Hollywood! All the greats are there: Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers…
But before we get to Hollywood, we start off in Oklahoma, where Helen Nichols lives with her family. That is, at least, until her cousin, Ginger Rogers, and aunt, bring her out to Hollywood to start in the movie business. 
While Ginger is already a rising start thanks to her manager mum Lela, Helen – now Phyllis Fraser – is nowhere near the big screen. She lives with her cousin and aunt, meets a lot of movie people, makes friends with other aspiring actresses, but only gets smaller roles with limited success. Hollywood is not as easy as it looks!
The book is based on a true story, including one of the first fun fact and well-researched detail of how Ginger Rogers got her name and shines a light on an interesting era in Hollywood. 
We follow Ginger Rogers through the story of Phyllis, reading about all the stars of the time, their dreams and ideas as well as the production companies, some of which are still famous today. 
In comparison, Phyllis’ life away from Hollywood is less exciting and it feels like it’s taking away from the focus of Ginger and Hollywood life. 
True to the real story, Phyllis eventually moves to New York to follow her real passion and even there we meet some interesting personalities of the time. 
Overall, the beauty of the book is not the plot of the story but rather getting to know a famous era and seeing historic characters come to life.
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Do you know Phyllis Fraser? What about the name Virginia McMath? Perhaps the name Ginger Rogers is one you can put your finger on. In a refreshing new book, Margaret Porter offers a glimpse into the glamourous early days of Hollywood. As entertainment shifted to movies, people from all over the country moved to sunny California to make their fortunes. Some were one hit wonders, others immense hits. Still others floated quietly underneath the glitz and glamour of the headliners while never making themselves truly noted among the throng. Porter gives us a story that showcases how stars evolved their careers from vaudeville, to Broadway and eventually, to movies. In this story, Porter focuses on Helen Nichols and Virginia McMath, a.k.a. Ginger Rogers, who were cousins. Ginger and her mother Lela invite Helen to join them in California to make her a movie star. Under the stage name Phyllis Fraser, Helen takes advantage of the connections she has through her famous cousin and forges her own path. This book simultaneously tracks the lives of each woman as their careers lead them on different journeys. While not a page turner, this book was a wonderful read. 
I received a copy of this title via NetGalley.
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If you are a classic movie fan, this book is definitely one to read! "The Limits of Limelight" focuses on the golden age of Hollywood as Ginger Rogers is moving up the ranks to movie stardom. Her mother, Lela, is the mother in charge and is as clever as she is smart. Ginger and Lela decide to take their niece and cousin, Helen, back to Hollywood with them after a visit to Oklahoma City. Helen is lovely. sixteen, and Lela also has plans for her to catapult to stardom like Ginger. Being a classic movie fan myself, I was familiar with every movie star mentioned. I could visualize each one. Margaret Porter has written a wonderful book and I highly recommend it! Thank you to the author, publisher, and Netgalley for the ARC.
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There’s no business like show business, right? But what are the limits? Helen Nichols is about to find out.

At age sixteen, Helen’s rising star cousin Ginger Rogers decides to pluck her from her small hometown in Oklahoma determined to turn her into a movie star. Helen quickly becomes Phyllis Fraser and before long she’s strolling around the RKO lot on a daily basis. Phyllis is cast in a small role here, a small role there but they often end up on the cutting room floor. She rubbed elbows with other contract girls and watch their stars rise while hers just never really did. She had front seats to all the drama, the love affairs (including a few of her own) and the glitz, glamour and tragedy that go hand in hand with show business.

A love for writing helped her through the lulls. It helped to pay the bills but ultimately, with a few twists and turns along the way…it led her down that path that eventually brought her success, both professionally and personally. 

This is such a great book! I love old Hollywood and this definitely paints a very vivid picture. It’s easy to envision some of the movies and scenes mentioned, especially Cheek To Cheek. I can hear Katherine Hepburns voice as she offers advise to Phyllis. All of the characters are real. Their stories are as accurate as can be depicted and are well researched. I even jumped on the internet for more information on the starlets. For fans of old Hollywood…this is a definite must read!

Thanks so much to NetGalley, Gallica Press and Margaret Porter for early access to this great story!
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This was a fascinating period in American history and the author has clearly done her homework, the book is packed with entertaining period detail. From train carriages to hair salons, the world described here is vivid and realistic. I would have liked to know a bit more about the characters inner worlds, but someone looking for a well researched tale of Hollywood's Golden Age will not be disappointed.
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Oklahoma, 1932 Helen Nichols is waiting to meet her cousin at the train station.  Her cousin, none other than Ginger Rogers, coming for an overnight stay along with a radio interview.   With her is her mother Lela Rogers, they will be staying with family.  While there, Ginger and her mother suggest they take Helen out to Hollywood where she too could get in the movies. Why not, she's cute, with a bit of resemblance to her movie star cousin! With the final approval of Helen's mother, 15 year old Helen goes out to California over summer vacation from school.  On the train out to Hollywood, Ginger also suggests Helen change her name to Phyllis Fraser and so a potential new star is born and a new name.

Through the years Phyllis meets with the many glamorous stars of Hollywood's Golden Age.  The book is packed with the names and studios when films were in their "heyday."  However while Ginger Rogers was climbing the ladder of success, Phyllis found her small roles were mostly landing on the cutting room floor.  Yet, she managed to maintain her wholesome attitude and even when faced with several tragedies, Phyllis had a great attitude.  The book is filled with both legend, fiction and true accounts of the personalities and loves of a bevy of celebrities.  In a way, it reminds me of those movies magazines I used to read years ago as a teenager (Photoplay, Modern Screen, etc.).

The novel is based on the lives of Phyllis Fraser, Ginger Rogers and her mother Lela Rogers. Ginger, of course, is quite well-known and especially for her films with Fred Astaire.  Her mother, Lela was also well-known in Hollywood, not only as Ginger's manager, but as an American journalist,  screenwriter, film producer and screenwriter.  While Phyllis Fraser, never quite making it as an actress, was a newspaper and magazine columnist, as well as a writer of radio soap operas among other things.    

The book is well researched, well written and if you are interested in reading about the stars of yesterday, this novel is for you.  It is interesting to note that by the time this book ends, you feel a bit connected to the lives of the family, and their concerns as the characters are well developed.  It is somewhat gossipy, but then what isn't in Hollywood?

My thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

To be reviewed on, Goodreads and Amazon
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This seems well researched and planned out, I have to praise the author for that! However, I struggled to connect with the characters. The pace felt a little off and the constant jumping between time and places was confusing to keep up with. The characters were fun and exciting and following their journey was entertaining, albeit a little confusing at times. Still, an interesting read!
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Thanks to NetGalley and Gallica Press for a preview copy of this book for my honest opinion.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable story, focusing on the life and times of Ginger Rogers and her cousin Helen. Based on fact, and narrated mainly from the perspective of cousin Helen, it focuses on Ginger’s rise from a chorus ‘hoofer’ to Hollywood star and incredible dance partner of Fred Astaire. Ginger’s career success owes a lot to the tenacity of her Mother Lela, a very supportive and ambitious lady, who also tries to launch her niece Helen as a movie star with slightly less success. The story is full of ups and downs, some sadness, lots of Hollywood glitz and glamour from a bygone era. Highly recommend.
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Book Review for The Limits of Limelight

Full feature for this title will be posted at: @cattleboobooks on Instagram!
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Thank you to Net Galley and Gallica Press for an e-ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.  I enjoyed this book so much.  While this is a story about Ginger Rogers, I loved the manner in which the author blended together fact with fiction, and brought in Ginger's mother, Lela, and her cousin Phyllis.  I especially loved the inclusion of Peg Entwhistle, the starlet who committed suicide by leaping from the Hollywood sign.  This transports you back to the heyday of early Hollywood.  The characters were well developed, and I would definitely recommend it.
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