Cover Image: Well Behaved Women

Well Behaved Women

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Member Reviews

I never knew of Alla Nazimova but I really enjoyed reading this story of her life. Well written and researched and made into a spellbinding tale.  
Many thanks to HarperCollins UK and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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I had no prior knowledge of Adelaida Leventon but I was very intrigued to read about her life. I was hooked on the story. I felt the tension of the time period pulsing throughout the story; and I learned a lot more about the time period, including what Sapphic Hollywood was/is and the ramifications of the genre. Overall this was a really enjoyable read. 

I received an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.
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I love the time period and seeing LGBTQ representation in this time where so many had to hide was just interesting to read.  I’ve read about male stars of that time who had to hide their orientation and I wish people would just be happy that people have love in their lives and love wherever you find it, is a keeper.
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I love this era of historical fiction and this one did not let me down.  It had gliz and glamour of old Hollywood, sexuality, real and raw charactes, and plenty of secrets!

Alla and Maybelle are our two mains.  Alla migrated from Russia, and we get her story in the past and her childhood.  Maybelle has moved to LA from backwoods Kentucky and, while a bit naive, knew what she did not want in life.

I was immediately sucked into the stories of these two women - both their own individual, and how they intersected.

I like that it dealt with the exploration of LGBTQ+ experiences, because clearly they existed then, although had to be kept more on the down low.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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A fascinating read, Inwasnquite far through before I realised it is based on a true story.
I love learning about social history of women and this is a good introduction to politics and sexuality in early Hollywood
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I do love me some historical fiction and I really enjoyed Caroline Lamond's Well Behaved Women. 

Well Behaved Women focuses on the life of real life actress Alla Nazimova and asks "what if?" Caroline Lamond has magically woven a story out of this concept and invited readers to a time and place that we can only dream about being a part of and peeks behind the curtain of the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle.

Accompanying Alla's story we have Maybelle - a country bumpkin who is seduced by the Hollywood crowd. We follow her into Alla's world and marvel at how different her life becomes. 

Well Behaved Women is a good story and the sapphic elements make you realise just how careful people had to be due to the judgement of those around them. It is an entertaining read and one that fans of historical fiction, the world of celebrity and LGBTQIA+ stories will love.

Well Behaved Women by Caroline Lamond is available now.

For more information regarding Caroline Lamond (@carolinelamond) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Harper Collins UK (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.
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I'm a little torn about this book.  I loved reading a fictionalized version of Alla Nazimova's life, from her tough start in Russia, the things she had to do to get by, and her meteoric rise in the silent film industry in the Golden Age of Hollywood.  If the book was solely about her, an easy 5 stars.  However, there is a dual narrative introducing a later day character, Maybelle, and her change from naive farmgirl to being introduced to the glitz and debauchery of Hollywood.  I was extremely uninterested in her story.  I didn't feel the interplay between these two narratives worked particularly well.
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I did enjoy this book. I just wasn't overwhelmed by it. There were just too many things that didn't quite reach the mark for me.

👍 What I Liked 👍

LGBTQ: I am a great fan of good LGBTQ stories - and this had a lot of good LGBTQ story arcs. I loved how many different kind of LGBTQ relationships represented, it was really good representation for all sexualities.

👎 What I Disliked 👎

Pacing: This is a dual timeline story. And in some ways, it really worked for this story. Our two main characters, Alla and Maybelle, are actually introduced to one another fairly early in the story. Which means that we get to follow their parallel stories far more closely. I liked that part. But I didn't like how it affected the overall pacing of the story. Alla's story starts in the 1870's and goes all the way up to the 1910's, while Maybelle's story only takes place in the 1920's. Therefore, Alla's story felt very rushed while Maybelle's felt super drawn out.

Identical: Again, dual timelines can really bring something great to a story. It can highlight similarities between two lives, two times and two places. But, in my opinion, Lamond (wanting to highlight one such similarity, I suppose) went too far and made something almost comical. At one point, our two leading ladies have an almost word-for-word similar experience. The scene, the dialogue and the ramifications for both women were almost identical, and it took me out of the reading experience. It didn't feel plausible.

POV change: Another thing, which might not be such a big deal, but was also took me out of the reading experience was an instance of a sudden POV change. While the story is written from the perspective of Maybelle (1st person) and Alla (3rd person), there is one scene towards the end of the book, where a third POV is suddenly thrown into the mix. Suddenly, we are inside the head of Josephine, hearing her thoughts and seeing a scene from her perspective. It only lasts for half a chapter, but it was enough to annoy me.

Maybelle: I had a hard time relating to Maybelle. I didn't feel like she was a driving force. Perhaps it was simply because she had to star opposite Alla, who took her fate into her own hands very early on. Or perhaps it was because Maybelle's chapters were all pretty much just fluff. I didn't ever really connect to her.
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This was such a good book. I love historical fiction, especially when it is about eras/ situations that I previously knew nothing about and this was definitely one of those books. It was so well researched and so compelling in its narrative that not only did I love reading it but I felt that I learned too. A really enjoyable read and perfect for any fans of historical fiction. This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and I would read more of their work. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.
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Special thanks to Harper Collins UK and NetGalley for the ARC of this book. 

This was pretty excellent. Emotional and really beautifully written.  If you like the Gilded and Golden Age of Hollywood,  than this books for you. 4 stars
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A story of the Gilded Age, the Golden Age of Hollywood. FIlled with danger, heartbreak, violence, sexual identity. A real eye opener.
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Russian Alla Nazimova was discovered on a theatre tour in the US and became a silent movie star, but the story of her beginnings and life was new to me and well presented in this wonderful historical fiction novel.
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A wonderful book with such memorable characters. I was hooked from the first page. I'll definitely recommend.
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Well-Behaved Women is a thought-provoking and insightful read that challenges readers to question the status quo and strive for a more equitable society.
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We all know the saying. And, true to the title, the women in this book (well, some of them) did have considerable historical significance. And then, they were summarily forgotten save for experts and aficionados.
And of course, books like these that aim to shed much needed light of the interesting/exceptional aspects of the past. 
I’m all for historical fiction. I’m not superthrilled about this kind of it—the one that firmly lands under women’s fic, estrogen heavy, emotionally overwrought, and melodramatic—but the subject intrigued me enough to check this novel out.
Sure enough, the book works primarily on the strength of its character. Nazimova. An émigré who took America by storm a century ago and was at the peak of her career the highest paid actress in Tinseltown. The peak didn’t stay, they seldom do, but it gave Nazimova’s story an perfect three-act ar—turbulent in real life, surely, but great for literary fodder.
Curiously enough, the author chose to split the narrative duty between Nazimova and Maybelle, a somebody and a nobody, presumably to work that dynamic. The thing is Maybelle isn’t nearly as interesting of the character, she’s more of a plot device. Young, inexperienced, and fresh out of Kentucky farm, she provides the wide-eyed gee-haw perspective for the world of early day cinema she discovers in LA.
She’s also a lesbian, which plays nicely against Nazimova’s famous bisexuality and generally rather scandalous love life.
So you have the fascinating historical plotline of Nazimova’s life up against half-assed romantic and aspirational yearnings of Maybelle. Not especially comparable, but workable.
Certainly more so that the writing itself, which is just…so freaking cheesy. The love scenes alone…it’s like stir some macaroni in there for a meal already.
Definitely the kind of book where you gotta pick and choose. For me, my interest in all things cinema and queer/historical past mostly balanced out the twee estrogen-heavy aspects of the novel. And yes, had the subject been less interesting, that twee estrogen-heavy thing would have tanked the book, but alas, it works. It’s readable. It entertains. Thanks Netgalley.
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This historical novel is about a little-known actress who found fame in the height of the black and white films and at the early birth of Hollwood glamour. It was an interesting account and I liked learning about a character whom I had not heard of before.

The novel is structured to move between present day (1917) and from 1879. In present day we follow Maybelle, who has moved to California to be with her heavily religious and suppressive aunt and uncle. She does not feel immersed in this new family life and knows her inner thoughts conflict with the devout, God-fearing beliefs that are promoted by her uncle. In contrast, alternate chapters introduce us to Alla who, from her life in Crimea, we explore how this actress found fame in America. It was her story that I found myself most interested in.

Cleverly, the two timelines eventually overlap: readers come to a point where we witness Alla’s initial meeting with characters who we are seeing in the later time period. This was a great way to structure the narrative because it meant you already knew how this relationship would develop; you are just seeing the final piece of the puzzle with an awareness of what is in store in the future.

Alla’s story was fascinating. I know a little about Russian history and I thought the social ideologies were vividly reflected in her upbringing. With no mother-figure in her life and a hateful father, I felt her story was one that should be celebrated. Alla manages to escape the dominating and violent patriarchy and, against all odds, makes a name for herself. Yet, as Lamond’s narrative demonstrates, this is never an easy journey.

Whilst I was not as invested in Maybelle’s story, I was interested in her growing exposure to the life of Hollywood. For sure, there are plenty of female characters in this novel that are far from being well behaved and I was keen to understand how appearances deceived those around them, hiding the true reality. Furthermore, Lamond continues to refer to other key characters of this period and whilst there were few names that I recognised, I did feel a part of Maybelle’s journey that takes her so far from her religious upbringing.

As the novel progressed, I enjoyed watching the parallels emerge between the two women. Whilst they may appear completely contrasting, the hardships they suffer prove to be quite similar. I loved how Lamond creates this reflection between the two women, although Maybelle’s life certainly lacks the glitz and glamour of Alla’s. I could not help but sympathise with Alla, particularly towards the end of the story. This encouraged me to celebrate the more optimistic ending for Maybelle.

Dealing with same-sex relationships in a strict era, this book raised awareness of the difficulties some women faced, repressed for not being able to be their true selves. I thought this was an interesting depiction of two troubled characters in what appears to be a very decadent era.

With thanks to One More Chapter, Harper Collins and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Lamond's book "Well Behaved Women" was an enjoyable read, and engaged me. However, I do feel like the timeline jumped a bit, which would take me out of the story. That might just be me. I enjoyed the perspective listed in this book and would recommend to friends.

Thanks to NetGalley and One More Chapter for the chance to review this book.
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A well written and fascinating novel about one of the diva of the 20s, Alla Nazimova. She was a woman who was not shy about her sexuality, a great actress and this book made me travel in time and brought me to mythical places.
I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the plot.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine
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An interesting read about the development of early Hollywood. Most people are not aware of the creative role women had as actresses, producers, writers, etc.
Alla’s childhood in Russia was also very interesting to read about.
Anyone wanting to read about the film industry prior to WWI should check out this book.
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This was a bit of a mixed bag for me.
The story itself is interesting, and explores a little of the darkness of being part of the LGBTQIA community during that time.
However, I found myself losing interest at times, what with the timeline jumping around, and so many additional characters to try and keep track of. By the time I was over half way I found myself skim reading at times just so I could find out how it ended.
Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the arc ebook.
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