Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and, The Girls in the Picture, by Melanie Benjamin, a novel set in early Hollywood, is a fascinating look at the movie industry and the friendship between Mary Pickford and Frances Marion. If you haven’t heard of either woman, there is plenty online to explore. Mary Pickford was a superstar of silent movies and early talkies. She married Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and together they became the first Hollywood power couple, and worked together with Charlie Chaplin to change the way movie studios worked with actors. Modern Hollywood would not exist without their groundbreaking ideas and insistence that actors have more control over their movies.
Frances Marion was the first female screenwriter to win an Oscar, and was a brilliant, powerful woman in an age where women were still limited by society’s expectations. Set during the period between 1914-1969, chapters alternate between Frances and Mary. Their friendship quickly established, the two women are very different and oftentimes this creates tension and misunderstanding. Will their friendship survive their ambition?
If you’re interested in learning more about Mary Pickford, the Marion Public Library has the biography Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies available for checkout, as well as the documentary Birth of the Cinema available on Kanopy.
This novel would make for great discussions as a book group title; the Marion Public Library has it available in hardcover, audio, and ebook.
--Sue Gerth, Customer Experience and Access Services Coordinator