Review: Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra

☆☆➹⁀☆ 5 stars☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

Like many before her, Maria Lagana has come to Hollywood to outrun her past. Born in Rome, where every Sunday her father took her to the cinema instead of church, Maria immigrates with her mother to Los Angeles after a childhood transgression leads to her father’s arrest.

Fifteen years later, on the eve of America’s entry into World War II, Maria is an associate producer at Mercury Pictures, trying to keep her personal and professional lives from falling apart. Her mother won’t speak to her. Her boss, a man of many toupees, has been summoned to Washington by congressional investigators. Her boyfriend, a virtuoso Chinese-American actor, can’t escape the studio’s narrow typecasting. And the studio itself, Maria’s only home in exile, teeters on the verge of bankruptcy.

Over the coming months, as the bright lights go dark across Los Angeles, Mercury Pictures becomes a nexus of European émigrés: modernist poets trying their luck as B-movie screenwriters, once-celebrated architects becoming scale-model miniaturists, and refugee actors finding work playing the very villains they fled. While the world descends into war, Maria rises through a maze of conflicting politics, divided loyalties, and jockeying ambitions. But when the arrival of a stranger from her father’s past threatens Maria’s carefully constructed facade, she must finally confront her father’s fate–and her own.



Guest Reviewer Tom’s Thoughts:

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra isn’t just another overdone “life during war” story. Esquisite character development and revealing strong bonds and deep ties from seemingly unlikely relationships makes this wartime novel a pleasurable read. 

Funny , quirky, and endearing are adjectives that come to mind as the author delivers realistic life moments with stunning realism each one coming to life with a good dose of irony and humor. The authors ultimate success is to create empathy and yes even envy for these rather unlucky souls who nonetheless refuse to let the sadness of hardship overtake them. This is the kind of book that leaves one with new resolve to reflect on one’s best and comforting moments even on the worst of days. I closed the book, chin up, ready to take on anything that might come my way. 

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