This story begins in Door County, Wisconsin in 1920. Elsa Emerson is the youngest of three daughters, and her parents run a playhouse. She dreams of becoming a movie actress, and she marries and runs away to Los Angeles while still very young. She is discovered and becomes a star named Laura Lamont. The atmosphere of old Hollywood is certainly intoxicating, but I didn't really appreciate Laura until things started to go south for her. Then, the reader learns what strength Laura possesses, and can appreciate her as a person, and not just a glamorous actress. --Sharon Nagel
Indie Next ListSeptember 2012
Despite what the gorgeous dresses, extravagant jewelry, and exotic mansions might suggest, movie stars are people, too. Elsa Emerson learns as a nine-year-old in Door County, Wisconsin, that she loves the limelight, and she spends her life both seeking it out and resisting it. Elsa moves to Hollywood, becomes film star Laura Lamont, loves, loses, succeeds, and fails. Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures gives readers a well-crafted, wistful, inside look into the glory days of Tinseltown. -- Hannah Johnson-Breimeier, Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, WI
A Bookpage Best Books of 2012 pick
The enchanting story of a midwestern girl who escapes a family tragedy and is remade as a movie star during Hollywood’s golden age.
In 1920, Elsa Emerson, the youngest and blondest of three sisters, is born in idyllic Door County, Wisconsin. Her family owns the Cherry County Playhouse, and more than anything, Elsa relishes appearing onstage, where she soaks up the approval of her father and the embrace of the audience. But when tragedy strikes her family, her acting becomes more than a child¹s game of pretend.
While still in her teens, Elsa marries and flees to Los Angeles. There she is discovered by Irving Green, one of the most powerful executives in Hollywood, who refashions her as a serious, exotic brunette and renames her Laura Lamont. Irving becomes Laura’s great love; she becomes an Academy Award-winning actressand a genuine movie star. Laura experiences all the glamour and extravagance of the heady pinnacle of stardom in the studio-system era, but ultimately her story is a timeless one of a woman trying to balance career, family, and personal happiness, all while remaining true to herself.
Ambitious and richly imagined, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures is as intimateand as bigger-than-lifeas the great films of the golden age of Hollywood. Written with warmth and verve, it confirms Emma Straub’s reputation as one of the most exciting new talents in fiction.
About the Author
Emma Straub is from New York City. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published by Tin House, The Paris Review Daily, Time, Slate, and The New York Times, and she is a staff writer for Rookie. Straub lives with her husband in Brooklyn, where she also works as a bookseller.
Praise for Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures…
"At once iconic and specific, Emma Straub's beautifully observed first novel explores the fraught trajectory of what has become a staple of the American dream: the hunger for stardom and fame. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures affords an intimate, epic view of how that dream ricochets through one American life." – Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad
"Emma Straub is a magician, full of brilliance and surprise."— Lorrie Moore
"An exquisite debut novel that brings Depression-era Hollywood to life with startling immediacy. Laura Lamont is a memorable character, and Emma Straub illuminates her inner life with uncanny authority."— Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers and Little Children
“I absolutely loved this tale of one woman's incredible journey from small town girl to movie star. Straub brings Old Hollywood fully to life, in all its glamour, excess, ruthlessness, and beauty. I didn't want this marvelous novel to end.”— J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Commencement and Maine
“Fantastic…a stunningly intimate portrayal of one woman's life.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Straub’s brisk pacing and emotionally complex characters keep the story fresh…This bewitching novel is ultimately a celebration of those moments when we drop the act and play the hardest role of all: ourselves.”—O, The Oprah Magazine
“[A] timeless tale with true heartfelt warmth throughout…one of the most entertaining novels this fall.”—Matchbook Magazine
“delightful… mesmerizing.”—The Miami Herald
“at once a delicious depiction of Hollywood’s golden age and a sweet, fulfilling story about one woman’s journey through fame, love, and loss.”—Boston Globe
“Straub makes masterful use of the golden age of Hollywood to tap contemporary questions about the price of celebrity and a working mother’s struggle to balance all that matters.”—People
“Straub vividly recaptures the glamour and meticulously contrived mythology of the studio-system era.”—USA Today
“big-hearted…a witty examination of the psychic costs of reinvention in Hollywood’s golden age.”—The Washington Post
“[With] effortless prose and precise observations…Straub's novel explores themes of identity, career and motherhood through the filter of one woman's life experience…an entertaining narrative.”-San Francisco Chronicle
“Laura Lamont might be the most anticipated debut of the year. It's easy to understand the hullabaloo; Straub's style is clear and engaging, and her plot balances the glamour of the Hollywood Golden Age with trenchant thematic links to issues of contemporary working women. The result is a delightful, entertaining read with substance.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Like the protagonist in her new novel, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Emma Straub is a rising star.”—TimeOut Chicago
“Will appeal to any girl who has left a small town behind to follow her dreams to the big city.”—Marie Claire
“Dramatic, human and historical: like a classic Hollywood movie…Straub knows when to linger and when to be brief, and her portrayal of Elsa/Laura’s relationships is exquisite…Peppered with stunningly crafted sentences and heart-twisting storytelling, the richness of this full life is portrayed with perceptive clarity.”—BUST Magazine
“Straub imbues her writing with surprising insights and wit… [her] writing reminds the reader how good literary fiction can precisely capture the human experience.”—Pop Matters