The Divine 1950's Come to Life! - The Memoir of Johnny Devine Review [Blog Tour]

Camille Eide weaves together the stories of a fallen Hollywood star and an young widow set in the midst of McCarthyism and the slowly changing ideologies of a post-WWII world ...
Camille Eide weaves together the stories of a fallen Hollywood star and an young widow set in the midst of McCarthyism and the slowly changing ideologies of a post-WWII world.
Available on Amazon.com
Title: The Memoir of Johnny Devine
Author: Camille Eide
Published: 2015 by Ashbury Lane Publishing
Awards/Honors: RT Book Reviews 5 Gold Star Top Pick, Reviewers' Choice Award Nominee, and the December 2015 Seal of Excellence winner.

About the Book:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26822292-the-memoir-of-johnny-devine?ac=1&from_search=1 In 1953, desperation forces young war widow Eliza Saunderson to take a job writing the memoir of ex-Hollywood heartthrob Johnny Devine. Rumor has it Johnny can seduce anything in a skirt quicker than he can hail a cab. But now the notorious womanizer claims he’s been born again. Eliza soon finds herself falling for the humble, grace-filled man John has become—a man who shows no sign of returning her feelings. No sign, that is, until she discovers something John never meant for her to see.

When Eliza’s articles on minority oppression land her on McCarthy’s Communist hit list, John and Eliza become entangled in an investigation that threatens both his book and her future. To clear her name, Eliza must solve a family mystery. Plus, she needs to convince John that real love—not the Hollywood illusion—can forgive a sordid past. Just when the hope of love becomes reality, a troubling discovery confirms Eliza’s worst fears. Like the happy fa├žade many Americans cling to, had it all been empty lies? Is there a love she can truly believe in?
Camille Eide weaves together the stories of a fallen Hollywood star and an young widow set in the midst of McCarthyism and the slowly changing ideologies of a post-WWII world.  A slow burning romance, hidden secrets, a before-her-time protagonist, and an unvarnished look at the 1950s, make for an intriguing historical read.

I adore 1950s fashion and style, but other than a chapter in my U.S. history textbook or watching I Love Lucy or films on the Turner Classic Movies station, I haven't really looked into life in the 1950s.  Eide doesn't idealize the 1950s: McCarthyism, Communism, and social injustice are touched on throughout the novel.  Utilizing historical fiction, Eide brings the era to life in a way that textbooks can't.  The only criticism I have is that Eliza, our heroine, has very modern views and when she states them, it can feel a bit too much like a contemporary critique of the societal norms of the 1950s.  However, I do think it is believable that women like Eliza existed in the 1950s --I could easily see her supporting the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s (it wasn't just African Americans fighting for desegregation, after all).

Johnny, the focus of the fictional memoir and former Hollywood heartthrob, and Eliza both struggle with overcoming the guilt and the shame of their pasts.  Hence, the romance is slow, building as they both get to know each other through their conversations and working together on Johnny's memoir, The Devine Truth.  Most of Johnny's backstory is revealed in the dictation of his memoir, while Eliza's is revealed as she unravels her parents' mysterious past.  I also enjoyed seeing little excerpts of The Devine Truth introducing most of the chapters of this book.  I thought that was a nice touch.  After this satisfying read, I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more of Eide's books!

[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book as a participant of Singing Librarian Books' blog tour for review purposes.]

Camille Eide writes romantic, inspirational dramas about love, faith, and family. She lives in Oregon with her husband and is a mom, grammy, bass guitarist, and a fan of muscle cars, tender romance, oldies Rock, and Peanut M&Ms.  Visit her online at www.camilleeide.com or on Facebook, TwitterGoodreads, InstagramPinterest, or her blog.

If you want to learn more about Camille and The Memoir of Johnny Devine, be sure to check out my exclusive interview!



What are you favorite 1950's reads?  Do you have any favorite actors or films from (or set during) the 1950's? Let's talk!

The Divine 1950's Come to Life! - The Memoir of Johnny Devine Review [Blog Tour] The Divine 1950's Come to Life! - The Memoir of Johnny Devine Review [Blog Tour] Reviewed by The Artist Librarian on 2/16/2016 10:56:00 PM Rating: 5

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this honest and very insightful review, Jen. I grew on on TV shows that depicted the 50s in a rosy light. And of course, there was a wholesomeness to that era we don't see as much now. But as you noted, it wasn't as rosy as depicted. The "Nostalgic" 50s that people (want to) remember doesn't always match up with the truth. And there were a number of reasons for that. Some, self-preservation. Others, a sense of showing the world post-war that America had emerged from war better than ever. The Depression had darkened the land too long, and new generations were ready to dream of success and prosperity and put it all behind.

    I too felt Eliza may have been a little ahead of her time. But one of the beauties of fiction is that we can explore the trials and triumphs of human experience through the lives of fictional characters and resolve issues we would reconcile, in hindsight, if we could. We can't undo the injustices and inequities of previous eras. But we can put a face and a heart to the lessons learned and pray we can grow past such blindness and not repeat our past mistakes. If anything, I wanted Eliza to embody the motivations and passions of a woman struggling with the pain of being devalued and questions about her own significance and how that might drive a woman to do something productive with those feelings and questions.

    Thank you for taking time to lend to this conversation.
    -Camille

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Camille! One of the reasons why I wanted to read your book was because I grew up watching "oldies" tv shows like that (Happy Days comes to mind also, though that was filmed in the 70s). ^_^ But I liked that you chose to portray the era more realistically. I agree --Eliza's modernity in certain areas didn't take away from the story and I felt it was still believable. However, if all the characters had those views, it would be totally different! ;-)

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