LIFE IN PICTURES
RIVERHEAD BOOKS, SEPTEMBER 2012
A Bookpage "Best Books of 2012" pick
In 1920, Elsa Emerson is born to the owners of the Cherry County Playhouse in Door County, Wisconsin. 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 child’s game of pretend. While still in her teens, Elsa marries and flees to Los Angeles. There she is discovered by Hollywood mogul Irving Green, who refashions her as an exotic brunette screen siren and renames her Laura Lamont. But fame has its costs, and while Laura tries to balance career, family, and personal happiness, she realizes that Elsa Emerson might not be gone completely. Ambitious and richly imagined, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures is as intimate—and as bigger-than-life—as the great films of the golden age of Hollywood.
"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. A-”
“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