Read Platinum Doll by Anne Girard Online


Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, novelist Anne Girard tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.It's the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She's chasing a dream;to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights.In CaliforSet against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, novelist Anne Girard tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.It's the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She's chasing a dream;to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights.In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want;a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends;except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition :to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she's thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth;that fame comes at a price, if only she's willing to pay it. Amid a glittering cast of ingenues and Hollywood titans: Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes, Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all....

Title : Platinum Doll
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780778318668
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Platinum Doll Reviews

  • DeB MaRtEnS
    2019-06-15 17:15

    Jean Harlow, the effervescent MGM starlet of the 1930's was known as both "Platinum Doll" and "Platinum Blonde". I knew very little about this woman, even though her photos and name have maintained celebrity and recognition, even after her untimely death at the age of twenty-six from kidney failure. This biographical novel does poetic justice to the young woman who moved from Missouri with her brand new husband, Charles, at the age of sixteen. Blessed with a trust fund, Charles sought to give his bride the home she wanted in Los Angeles, where she had lived with her divorced mother who had dreams of becoming an actress. As her husband dallied and drank with the local smart set, Harlean McGrew (her real name) inadvertently was noticed by a casting agent in the Brown Derby Restaurant. Jean Harlow was actually her mother's maiden name. Her mother had enormous influence on her daughter, aside from Harlean's rebellious act of wedding without approval. As Harlean's career blossomed, Charles' insecurity and drinking increased, the mother's interference became intrusive and the marriage became increasingly unstable. Howard Hughes made Jean Harlow a notable star, signing her to a pitifully low-paying contract as he raked in huge profit from the film Hell's Angels. Once MGM bought out her contract, Harlow and Clark Gable became a favourite comedic film duo in many financially successful films. Her marriage resulted in divorce. She was an intelligent, sassy and compassionate girl. The girl Harlean was a bookworm, reading The Odyssey for pleasure. She was a quick study, gifted with a fantastic memory and never a diva. Although she had not intended to take up acting, as she became invested in Jean Harlow, the actress, she became intent on success. The novel is a quick read, but satisfying biographical fiction. The author has attempted to infer Jean Harlow's emotional reactions, in some cases, which blend smoothly with the overall picture given by her research. I appreciated all of the historical information and her Acknowledgments where she clarified her research sources and slight deviations for impact, which I believe to be very important for historical fiction of any type. Four stars. A gentle story of early Hollywood.

  • Book of Secrets ☘
    2019-06-06 15:50

    3.75 Stars PLATINUM DOLL is a novel based on actress Jean Harlow's rise to fame during the Golden Age of Hollywood. In the late 1920s, she goes to California as a teenage bride from the Midwest. The book follows her turbulent marriage to Chuck McGrew, and the struggles she had with her ruthless mother who pushed and pushed an acting career, not always having her best interest at heart.I enjoy reading about this era, and this book presents an intriguing and well-researched "slice of life" of a promising Golden Age starlet. I liked the author's portrayal of Jean Harlow - part blonde bombshell, part book nerd - though I wish she would've had more of a backbone when it came to her mother. It was fun watching the clips referenced in the book, especially the Laurel & Hardy short "Double Whoopee." The pacing was slow in spots, but overall it was a "swell" read, as Jean would say. Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Erin
    2019-06-14 17:18

    Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....My first experience with author Anne Girard took place in 2014 when I read Madame Picasso. The book impressed me and played a large part in prompting my interest in Platinum Doll. I knew next to nothing about Jean Harlow when offered an advanced reader’s edition of the book, but I love old Hollywood and knew I’d enjoyed Girard’s style of writing. Long story short, I accepted the offer and quickly lost myself in Girard’s interpretation of Jean’s story. The narrative itself follows Jean’s life from 1927 to 1932, covering the course of her marriage to Charles "Chuck" McGrew and the rise of her professional career. Girard emphasizes the tumultuous relationship of a young couple who don’t see eye to eye and a domineering mother who is hell bent on vicariously living her dreams through the success of her only child. Historically, I found the novel illuminating, but I feel the strength of the narrative is in Girard’s illustration of these relationships and the emotion turmoil they create in Jean.Chuck was a hard character for me personally, but my struggle to appreciate him highlighted how realistically he’d been written. There is a painful authenticity to him, but at the end of the day I felt his character added much to the narrative. I found Mother Jean equally difficult and on more than one occasion I found myself wishing someone would slap her across the face, but even here, I felt Girard’s ability to manipulate my emotions spoke to her abilities as a storyteller. Last, but certainly not least, I found Jean both complex and endearing. Her personality is sweet and I felt the candid nature of Girard's illustration inviting. There is a certain ambiguity to her professional motivations, but I greatly appreciated her character just the same. Atmospherically I think the novel quite fun. Girard takes her readers into the offices of Howard Hughes, onto the back lots of MGM, and into the famed glamour of The Brown Derby. Several golden age and silent film star enjoy cameo roles in the narrative, but I felt the most notable were those minor scenes featuring Clark Gable. Unlike Harlow, I’ve studied the actor, and saw a spark in Girard’s rendering of his personality and persona.When all is said and done, I feel the time I spent with this piece rewarding. Platinum Doll is a striking and poignant illustration of a remarkable young woman. An irresistible novel that effortlessly evokes the glamour and sophistication of Hollywood during its Golden Age.

  • graveyardgremlin (formerly faeriemyst)
    2019-06-11 20:06

    I've longed admired Jean Harlow. There's just something about her that is mesmerizing and infectious. She was someone who seemed to glow from within. While I am no expert and haven't seen all her films, I still have an idea of who she might have been. I was so excited for the opportunity to read Platinum Doll, but as I was reading, the thrill decreased until it was gone.Ms. Girard's portrayal of Jean Harlow, born Harlean Harlow Carpenter, is hollow, naive and full of wide-eyed wonder at everything. While I will buy the latter two to a certain degree, I can't help feeling that Harlean was savvier and more in control than described in the book. She never grew in the book, and yes there was lip service that she had, but it wasn't felt. Everything seemed to fall into her lap or it was dumb luck. It never felt that Harlean had much gumption or incentive to go for it. Now that's not something I believe is true. Someone who takes on a dare, dyes her hair a shocking platinum blonde, and defies a controlling mother when she elopes isn't a person who stands back and allows things to happen to her. No, she makes them happen.As for the plot, well, most of it is devoted to her first marriage with Charles "Chuck" McGrew, which was unfortunate as it was boring and redundant with basically the same thing happening over and over again. Yawn. Her mother, Jean Harlow, was shown as your typical stage mother, which I don't doubt she was, but I would also guess that their mother/daughter relationship was deeper and more complicated than that written. Not much is told about her work, just brief glimpses and mentions. Part of the problem was that it was just basic a to b to c telling. Change the names and certain circumstances and this could be about any ingenue in the 20s and 30s.I could go more in depth, but the book didn't so why should I? I wish I'd passed on Platinum Doll and watched the glamorous Jean Harlow at work or read a biography about her instead. I appreciate what the author tried to do, but the attempt failed to bring to life the vivacity of this fascinating woman. 2.5 stars

  • Colleen Turner
    2019-06-22 21:17

    Find my full review at's something fascinating to me about peaking behind the glamour and spectacle of the golden age of Hollywood and seeing the grit, disappointment and sacrifice hidden beneath. I haven't read a book yet or seen a movie set during this unique time and place that doesn't highlight the hardships that come with the privileged life those that make it come to experience. This can sometimes come across to me as "poor me, I'm so rich and sad", but that isn't the case at all with Anne Girard's Platinum Doll. In this lovely novel of the life of Jean Harlow the reader is thrust into the heart and mind of this complex and incredibly admirable woman and made to truly appreciate all she did to make her dreams come true. Right off the bat I have to say that I absolutely LOVE Girard's depiction of Harlean, aka Jean Harlow. I didn't know very much about her before, but from the very beginning I knew I was going to like her. She starts off as this bookish teen that was so vivacious, loving and full of hope for what the future could hold that it was completely infectious. Watching her tentatively go after this exciting new adventure in Hollywood and realize at such a young age - 17! - that she can be a wife, daughter and actress was inspiring, even as I knew it couldn't last. I ached for both her and her husband as they struggled to find their footing in a world where they had very different expectations for the future and I kept hoping they would find a way to get the help they needed and make it work, even with the villain (in my opinion) of the story doing everything in her power to push them apart. Coming to this villain, it has been a while since I've disliked a character as much as I did Harlean's mom, Jean (yes, they were both "Jean Harlow" once Harlean made it her stage name, but Anne Girard does a remarkable job of keeping the reader from getting confused between the two). "Mama Jean" is just vile to me, being as manipulative, greedy and pig-headed as one could imagine. The only real character flaw I found in Harlean was her inability to stand up to her mother and willingness to forgive her, again and again, when she knew full well the horrible things her mother had done and the unbelievable lengths she went to to make Harlean the star her mother never had the chance to be. However, it must be noted that I don't think I would have such strong feelings about this character if I didn't care so much for Harlean, and I also don't think she would have become the woman she did without the trials she faced that were influenced by her mother's actions. As Harlean ages she matures and is determined to make a life for herself as well as her family despite the various challenges thrown at her, and how can I not admire that? While Harlean, her husband, Chuck, and Harlean's mother and step father are the central figures of this story, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that so many other exciting people walk through and make there marks as well. We get to meet Clara Bow, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes, Louis B. Mayer and so many more! I've always had a pretty big crush on Clark Gable and that feeling is definitely cemented with his depiction in Platinum Doll. With so many names coming and going through the story, some I was already familiar with and some that were new to me, I spent an inordinate amount of time looking through old pictures of all these fascinating people and then going back and visualizing them within the story. This is one of my favorite things about historical fiction and the fact that Girard had me continually mesmerized by these people really speaks to her abilities to bring these people back to life. Aside from the incredibly fleshed out characters, the vibrant setting was just as captivating to me. Girard absolutely brings this world to life - from the homes in Beverly Hills to the Brown Derby and Cocoanut Club to Grauman's Chinese Theatre - and I had no problem picturing myself right there with the stars even though I have never been there. It is such an awe-inspiring setting and was the perfect background to while away the hours.Platinum Doll is perfect historical fiction, brimming with alluring real-life characters and settings filled in with drama, emotion and language that fills in the gaps that history has long forgotten or wouldn't have documented. Whether you're new to Jean Harlow's story as I was or already quite familiar with her, I think there is so much to love within these pages. Highly recommended!

  • Laura Lee
    2019-06-25 14:48

    Strong 3.5A novel about Jean Harlow early in her career. The book focused on her first marriage, which I found very interesting. The book ended just as Harlow was a superstar. I have read a lot of books about old Hollywood and I remember reading that Harlow was pretty well liked, especially among the crews because she seems to have been pretty down to earth, but I don't think she was as naive as she is portrayed here. The relationship with her mother is interesting and stands up to what I have read. Everyone may have loved Baby, Harlows nickname, but they all hated her mother. I enjoyed the book, a quick read.

  • Suzanne Redfearn
    2019-06-01 17:48

    A beautifully told story about Jean Harlow, the original blond bombshell, and the romantic era of Hollywood.

  • The Lit Bitch
    2019-06-13 19:58

    I know next to nothing about Jean Harlow and this sounded sort of like Hollywood meets The Great Gatsby so I was super excited to read it! Girard’s writing style impressed me right away. A book like this needs some sparkle and glamour when it comes to the writing style….it is a book set in Hollywood after all….and her writing style was just that, full of colorful descriptions, elegant dialogue and interesting characters.I especially liked coming in contact with other Hollywood film stars/characters throughout the book, it really added glamour for me. The only thing I struggled with at times when it came to characters was Harlean/Jean herself. There were times that I felt she was a little idealistic and naive…..on one hand it didn’t bother me that bad because she was so young when she first came to Hollywood but at the same time I expected a little more growth with her character throughout the book than what I got. Because of the lack of this I struggled to some degree to identify and connect with her character.While at times I struggled with Harlean’s character, overall I enjoyed the book itself and I loved the whole Hollywood, golden era setting. I especially liked how Girard depicted the relationship between her and husband, Chuck McGrew. It wasn’t a perfect relationship by any stretch of the measure but it’s clear that there is love between them and I thought that Girard highlighted their love exceptionally well.One thing that really stood out for me was the authenticity of the language/dialogue in the book. Sometimes when people write historical fiction, it’s easy to slip in a few modern phrases or terms by mistake…..but with Girard she stayed true to the period when it came to the characters and dialogues. She used words like ‘swell’ and ‘keen’ which I thought were perfect within the time period. I loved all of Girard’s descriptions and how the story unfolded. If you are looking to fall into the world of old Hollywood, then this is a great option!See my full review here

  • Tara Chevrestt
    2019-06-10 13:09

    I realize this won't be a popular review as I don't seem to share popular opinion on this one. I'm giving this a three because it's very well written as far as prose/telling vs showing/descriptions not too much or too little/emotion adequate. I felt in the scenes. I just didn't like the story itself, nor the heroine. We're all a bit dumb and easy to push around when we're young and this woman is a mere 17 when the book opens and is forced into many real-life situations she's not ready for.But a little over 3/4 into the story, I just plain got sick and tired of it all, the back and forth with Chuck, the mother making all Harlean's decisions, the inability of this little bombshell to stick up for herself and say, "No, I won't pay all your bills for you, MOMMIE."Having read A Touch of Stardust: A Novel I enjoyed the tidbits and fun facts about the actors/actresses involved in the movie, about the creating of the scenes. This novel didn't have that. It just flitted quickly from one movie to the next giving us very little of the movie-making process and the other actors/actresses. I'd have appreciated more about the movie business, less of the Harlean/Mommie wars and Harleen/Chuck wars.But that's just me.

  • Leslie Lindsay
    2019-06-16 16:07

    Gorgeously written and fabulously drawn from the life of Harlean Harlow Carpenter, aka Jean Harlow, PLATINUM DOLL is historical fiction at its best. Girard limits the timeline of young Jean Harlow to her early days as an emerging Hollywood star in the late 1920s and early 1930s, a perfect blend of romanticized Hollywood in the Golden Age in which her overbearing mother (Momma Jean), plays a ruthless fame-seeking pariah at her daughter's expense. I loved every minute of this book, the writing is fabulous and it's clear the author did much research to adequately capture Jean's short and amazing life. I found myself looking up characters mentioned within the text, Jean Harlow's life and movies...and now I feel as if I need to rent/check out "Hell's Angels," and read Ms. Harlow's novel. Yep, it seems Jean Harlow was quite bookish--loving to read and even attempted a novel. A terrific read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction as you'll be transported to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood in the roaring 1920s. Stay tuned for an author interview January 27th. This book releases Jan 26, 2016 from MIRA. For all of my reviews, including author interviews, please see: [Much appreciation to MIRA/E.Flounders for this ARC]

  • Suzy
    2019-06-01 20:10

    Loved the old Hollywood glamour and learning about Jean Harlow.

  • Alexw
    2019-06-01 19:09

    Did not cover her tragic death at age 26-mostly about her arguments with her mother-meh-was interesting about her movie with Laurel and Hardy

  • Carlene Inspired
    2019-06-13 19:48

    3.5 StarsAt 16 Hearlean McGrew is a brand new wife to Chuck McGrew living in dazzling Hollywood. By luck, she captures the eye of men at the studio and is soon acting for a small fee. Her relationship, however, is one of constant turmoil and making up. Chuck wants his wife at home, but his unwillingness to face his emotions leads to drinking and outbursts. As their relationship falls to pieces Jean's life in the spotlight picks up speed as she is cast in multiple talkie rolls and begins her press tours. With girls lining up to dye their hair that certain shade of platinum blonde, Jean Harlow must face her family, herself, and her passion for performance.Jean Harlow's relationship with Chuck McGrew wasn't perfect, but the love is there and Anne Girard's coverage of this is excellent. While it isn't as true as Jean Harlow's real life, you know she drank too, it did bring to life who Jean really was at her young, impressionable age. I really enjoyed reading about her relationship, even though it was often strained and uneasy. Their relationship, while not incredibly public at the time, has been well documented and I felt like it was accurate. It also helped me to understand who Jean Harlow really was and why she was so good at just sitting down and doing what everyone wanted. I also loved her friend Rosalie and how they both were such unique individuals in the acting world. The interactions on set, especially when famous celebrities i recognized seemed pretty close to the truth, were really enjoyable to read. The historic facts, especially the movie facts as talkies first released, were very accurate and I appreciated the amount of research that had to have gone into that.What starts as a promising tale of love, loss, and fame soon becomes repetitive and lacks the girlish charm of the first 50%. While Girard has a beautiful way with words, the general story of Jean Harlow's climb to celebrity status lacked emotion once her relationship falls apart. It felt like a highlight reel, which would make sense if the entire book read that way, but the first half of the novel seemed to have so much more to it. I'm not an expert on Jean Harlow's life, by any means, but I expected some personal growth from her and instead she felt more like a rug beneath her parent's feet. I wanted to know about the struggle with her mother, how she really felt about her mother and stepfather owning her life. I wanted to know about her marriage with Paul, how that really came to be, and her life in the movies.Overall, Platinum Doll is an engaging story of the famous blonde pin-up girl, Jean Harlow. The novel brings dimension to her life and is great book for those that are fans of the 20's and historical fiction.

  • Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
    2019-06-11 13:09

    Platinum Doll is an interesting look into the life of the young Hollywood ingénue who took Hollywood and the world by storm. Filled with many references to Hollywood elite like Laurel and Hardy, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and Carole Lombard this book shows the struggles, both personal and professional, that teenager Harlean Carpenter, who later became Jean Harlow, experienced during her rise to fame.Underneath it all, Platinum Doll is a coming of age story. Seventeen year old Harlean arrives in California as a very naive and impressionable young bride from Kansas City. Initially she wasn't interested in pursuing a career in Hollywood but soon she changed her name to Jean Harlow, set her sights on Hollywood her rise to fame began. She paid her dues and found that she had to fight to be taken as a serious actress and not a brainless blonde bombshell the studios thought her to be. As her star rose she quickly became one of the most famous actresses of the time but not without many struggles along the way as she tries to take control of her life and career from those around her.At the heart of the book is Jean's relationships with her family. Readers get an up close look some of these relationships including the very complicated, dysfunctional yet sometimes touching relationship Jean had with her mother. "Mama Jean" was a controlling woman who was living out her former dream to be a Hollywood star through her daughter. She fought hard for her daughter but took just as much (if not more) than she gave. Theirs was a tumultuous relationship as was her rocky marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Chuck McGrew which affected some of her future romantic entanglements.This book has many references to old Hollywood - the glamour, the limitations for young women and all the dazzle of the Roaring 20's. While I enjoyed this book I think people who know more about Hollywood in the 1920's would love this book even more. There were so many famous names referred to that I sort of recognized but didn't have a good enough grasp on their careers to fully get the reference.I was eager to read Platinum Doll because I wanted to know more about this infamous actress and Anne Girard gave me a good look at the young woman behind the Hollywood glamour.My Rating: 3.5/5 stars (increased to 4 stars for this site)Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to author Anne Girard for providing me with a complimentary paperback copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I'd also like to thank Anne Girard for taking the time to answer my questions in the interview following my review on my blog (

  • Meg - A Bookish Affair
    2019-06-08 20:57

    "Platinum Doll" is the story of Jean Harlow, golden goddess of the silver screen. It's a historical fiction take on her life and her rise from a young girl to a full fledged Hollywood actress. Harlow went to Hollywood in her late teens and passed away by the time that she was 26 years old. This book focuses specifically on her time in Hollywood. Before reading this book, I really only knew Jean Harlow the actress and almost nothing about her background. I liked how this book shed some light on who she was off the screen.The book focuses greatly on Jean's relationship with both her mother and her husband. Jean's mother had dreams of her own of Hollywood greatness but was never able to cut it. Once Jean becomes famous, her mother seems to be living vicariously through her and does everything in her power to push Jean's star higher, even if it is not what Jean wants. Their relationship was fascinating. Jean continues to call her mother, "Mommie" and her mother calls her "The Baby" even in Jean's adulthood. The relationship between Jean and her first husband, Chuck, was also very interesting to me. Chuck does not want Jean to go into films and wants her to stay home and be content being a housewife, which is exactly what Jean does not want. I thought that we really saw Jean grow in the book when she was dealing with Chuck. At first, she bends to his will. Then, she stretches further and before long, she realizes that someone who will keep her from her dreams is not the right match for her.The writing of the book is good. The author uses a lot of good detail to really pull the reader into Harlow's Old Hollywood world. Lots of the Hollywood greats make an appearance in this book. I enjoyed Girard's previous release, "Madame Picasso" and with this book, Girard is rising quickly to my "must-read" list.

  • Raven Haired Girl
    2019-06-08 18:00

    Visit Raven Haired Girl for more reviews & giveawaysGirard captures Jean Harlow in such an intimate light. There was much more to this sultry siren than her sex appeal and good looks as we quickly discover. It's a coming of age story parallel with the rise of a star cum icon. Girard demonstrates the two most influential people in Harlow's life and career, equally causing her joy and sorrow.I appreciated the way Girard captured closure for Harlow in both relationships with her mother and with Chuck. The closures allowed Harlow peace, a burgeoning voice and served as showing this woman's tender side and what was most important to her, through the ashes rises a woman - plausible and after spending time with Harlow more than appropriate.I do wish Harlow possessed a backbone, sadly she was a people pleaser causing her much strife. I was hoping she would use the word 'no' especially in regards towards her mother. Eventually she resigns to accepting her position with her mother and takes a quasi stand, still not enough but given her personality understood to a certain degree.Girard does a fabulous job with facts and fiction creating a wonderful historical fiction focusing on the personal and professional rise of Jean Harlow.

  • Jeanie
    2019-06-07 19:49

    Jean Harlow- a woman who seemed to have everything, was constantly in battle of being consumed by those who would manipulate and control her. From her mother to Howard Hughes. From her marriage to her big break, she seemed to suffer from not knowing who she was. The narration was passive and that made it a little difficult to be engaged in Jean Harlow's story. It makes you wonder if she really was that passive or if it was easier to let others control her. Her life was more sad than happy because of it. I am big fan of old movies and the lives that lived them. If you are too, you will want to read Jean's story.A Special Thank You to Harlequin (US & Canada and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

  • Annie Quinn
    2019-05-27 17:57

    Just finished Anne Girard's newest book, "Platinum Doll". I was swept into the life of the early movie industry and the torment of Harlene's life, from a jealous husband to an overbearing 'stage mother'. Ms Girard, as in her book Madame Picasso, has the ability to take the reader to the time and place of the historical novel and the beginning of the motion picture industry. I loved how the author made Jean Harlow seem so normal, although she was in a highly charged industry. I recommend this book . I was impressed by Ms Girard's use of dialogue and descriptions of the characters, locations, and feelings of the various actors and actresses )Enjoy the Moments

  • leslye
    2019-06-17 16:55

    I enjoy reading about the "Golden Age of Hollywood". Before reading this book, I didn't know much about Jean Harlow. This historical fiction follows Jean ( her real name was Harlean) from a teenage bride through her rise to stardom and all the drama that comes with fame. If you love books about starlets and old Hollywood, this book might interest you. Overall this novel was a fascinating look into 1920's Hollywood through the eyes of Harlean Carpenter McGrew- the original blonde bombshell.

  • Helen Barlow
    2019-06-04 15:05

    Excerpt from the full review available on my blog."Platinum Doll is not just a look at Harlean’s attempts to reach star status, but also delves into the struggles of marrying young, living up to your parents expectations and putting everything you have into a dream.All in all, Platinum Doll was a fascinating look into 1920’s Hollywood through the eyes of Harlean Carpenter McGrew – the original blonde bombshell."

  • Colleen
    2019-05-28 13:05

    I know someone whose grandfather worked as a makeup artist in MGM and he said the most beautiful actress he had ever seen, after working there almost all his life, was Harlow. Look at how the stars tear up at the Harlow segment of When a Lion Roars or the tributes included about her in Loy's book (she think her mother killed her) and Roz Russell's book (doesn't think her mom killed her, but wasn't a fan). And Eve Golden's biography on her--Platinum Girl--is one of the greatest biographies ever. Look at all the great movies (she made 42 movies before she died so young at 25), many elevated to greatness solely by her presence, or if not great, exciting to watch, starting with one of my favorite movies Red Headed Woman to her stealing the show at Dinner at Eight. It's strange too, after being in a series of clunkers like Secret Six where she's stiff and ungainly, to destroying the scenery in Red Headed Woman--and a lot of stars made that kind of abrupt genesis (see Bette Davis--from her many terrible early films to Of Human Bondage). This book doesn't really go into that--instead of all the things it could go into with Harlow, it chooses, intentionally, to focus on her marriage with her first husband. Jean Harlow, for all her trashy image, was actually an upperclass girl from Missouri, who went to boarding schools and was a debutante. She married orphan with issues that has a huge trust fund at 16 and they run off to Hollywood. As much as I am a fan of all things Harlow, I just didn't find the first husband bit very interesting. It felt a little cliched ridden, with Harlow's monster of a mother pulling strings with Harlow unwilling to make waves or fight back against the relentless push to celebrity. I wish this book was a bit more like The Chaperone, a novel I think that best captured the early 20s, that I think went beyond the superficiality into something deeper. How all of Harlow's future loves pop up so early--Powell, Rosson, and Bern also felt a bit hammy. People say things like "My world is lots of heartbreak, over ice, easy on the introspection." and epithets like "doll" drip on every page. I both see and like the author's enthusiasm and interest in both her subject, and the more breezed over part in Harlow's life (the abovementioned first hubby) but I ultimately wanted more. In a way, it would have been more interesting perhaps to had used different voices--the scheming terrible mother, the gigolo step dad, etc.--I think that device would have helped a lot. Since I've been reading lots of Auntie Mame this week, I thought back to Roz's first encounter with Harlow:"I was close to Jean Harlow. I loved her, and oh she was a stunning creature! I remember sitting under a hair dryer in a beauty parlor one day, and sitting next to me was a child, also under a dryer. She was wearing shorts, and her little baby legs perfectly formed, rested against the back of her chair while the nails of her little baby hands were being manicured. My word, I thought, a ten or eleven year old kid having that bright red polish put on, and suddenly the hood of the dryer went back and the child stood up and it was Jean. She was probably twenty-three at the time but without make-up and no eyebrows, she looked exactly like a little kid."

  • Mary
    2019-06-11 15:05

    Had the holidays not been a deterrent, I could have zipped through this book in a flash. I'm a major fan of Marilyn Monroe and have always wanted to know more about the woman who inspired the young Norma Jean. This was the first book I've read about Jean Harlow and did not disappoint. My gosh! Jean Harlow's mother was a tyrannical nightmare. I understand the bond they shared because my youngest child was terminally ill and our bond was fierce. However, the decisions Mother Jean made on behalf of her young daughter was just appalling. I realize that Girard's book is a fictional account of the star's life but the relationship between mother and daughter was infamous. Girard's portrayal of Mother Jean had me boiling. It's clear to me both women were codependent upon the other. Rather disturbing. That said, I think Harlow was destined for stardom even without her mother's constant interference. Some are just born natural stars. Harlow was one of them. I was so absorbed in Girard's version of events and it was lots of fun eavesdropping on the glamorous past of old Hollywood. Harlow encounters a great deal of celebrities during her rise to the top and Girard slips each one into the story nicely. Clara Bow, Laurel and Hardy, Mary Pickford, Clark Gable, Howard Hughes, and William Powell all crossed paths with Jean Harlow. Pola Negri, Harlow's idol, even gets a mention. I can only imagine how much fun Girard had while researching this book. Hollywood was an exciting place during Harlow's years of fame and glamour. It's one of my favorite times in history. This book covers the early years in Harlow's short life. This is historical fiction, not a biography. If you're seeking the complete story of Jean Harlow this is not the book for you. I liked that I knew next to nothing about Harlow because my mind couldn't dispute the fictional liberties Girard took with telling her story. But, and the only reason this fascinating tale didn't get the full five stars, I sometimes had a difficult time understanding sentence structures and the way Girard chose to word certain thoughts. I found myself scrunching up my eyebrows in confusion and having to reread a paragraph in order to comprehend what Girard was saying. And, there were a few repetitive things that I'd read one too many times. Neither distracted from the story but did slow me down. It's certainly not going to keep me from enjoying other books by Anne Girard. Overall, a book I really, really liked. During the summer, I won a wonderful, generous giveaway through an author's blog. A bundle of ten books was the prize and each book was signed by the authors participating in the giveaway, this one included. I was very fortunate to win this giveaway and, not kidding, I consider one of the highlights of my summer.

  • Lauralee
    2019-06-02 19:03

    I have heard of the legendary movie star, Jean Harlow. However, I have not seen any of the movies she starred in, or known any details about her personal life. Reading Platinum Doll was a pleasure because it showed how fascinating and complex Jean Harlow was. This novel chronicles Jean Harlow’s early years of how she became a star. This story follows Jean through her turbulent marriage to Chuck McGrew, her ambitious and controlling mother, Jean Bello, who wants to thrust her daughter into the spotlight, and her struggle to make it big in Hollywood. This novel uses Jean Harlow’s real name Harlean. Harlean had just run away from her home to marry, Charles, a young rich boy. They moved to Los Angeles hoping to start a new life. However, Harlean befriends an aspiring actress. While waiting for her friend on set, she caught the eye of a few Fox executives who gave her letters of recommendations to Central Casting. Reluctant to go to Central Casting, her friends made a bet that she should go. She went to Central Casting and used her mother’s maiden name for her stage name. Soon she became an extra for a movie. Afterwards, she realized that she loved acting and decided to pursue it as a career. Harlean is a sympathetic figure. At first, she is an idealist and a romantic. She is passionately in love with Charles and is content at being a housewife She loves books and aspires to be a novelist. She is reluctant to act because she is content with her life. Yet, when she starts to act, her husband becomes jealous and possessive. He does not want her to act. However, when her mother comes to move in with them, their marriage becomes even more heated. Her mother wants Harlean to be a famous actress. Thus, Charles and her mother clash as they try to assert control over her. Harlean fights to be her own self and to make her own decisions for her happiness.Overall, this novel is about love, family, choices, and sacrifices. It is a quest for a woman to find her happiness and her identity. The message of the book is to follow your dreams and to never give up. I felt the characters to be complex and engaging. Harlean was an inspiring character. She never gave up on her dream, even when defeat seemed to be her fate. I also loved the setting of Hollywood’s Golden Age. We get to meet some stars in her life, most notably Clark Gable. My only complaint is that this novel left me wanting more. I wanted the book to continue as an established star. I hope that the author will write a sequel because I did not want this book to end. I loved Jean Harlow and her world. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Jean Harlow and Hollywood’s Golden Age.(Note: I read an ARC copy of this book in courtesy of Netgalley.)

  • Laurie
    2019-06-07 16:55

    Harlean Carpenter-Jean Harlow’s real name- was the first blond bombshell of Hollywood. She arrived there 1928, seventeen years old, and newlywed. Despite having a mother who tried a few years earlier to break into film, Harlean had no intention of working- her young husband was a trust fund baby and could support them in style. But a friend was trying to break into movies, and needed a ride to a casting call. An agent saw Harlean waiting in her car and the rest was history. This is the story of how Harlean became a glittering Hollywood star, but even more than that it is the story of her marriage to Chuck McGrew. Orphaned early, he grew up rich and came into even more when he turned 21. He loved Harlean to distraction, drank too much, and was jealous of anyone who took too much of Harlean’s attention or time. He didn’t care for her budding acting career and imagined affairs with men she worked with. His biggest problem, though, was with Harlean’s mother, Jean Bello. Jean Bello saw Harlean as an extension of herself, treated Harlean like she was six years old (she called Harlean “the Baby” right up until her death at age 26), managed everything about her, spent Harlean’s money, and added greatly to the stress that broke up Harlean’s marriage to McGrew. Indeed, Jean Bello is almost a caricature of a stage mother, but the story is supported by facts. Harlean comes across as a smart, vulnerable and charming young woman who is happy in her marriage and their fairy tale life in Los Angeles. With the money to buy what she wanted and entertain endlessly, McGrew couldn’t understand why she wasn’t content. Harlean was bored with shopping trips and drunken parties; she read incessantly and knew there was more to life than just existing. I really liked the character that the author built out of historical sources. She was neither silly starlet nor vamp, and really struggled to balance husband, mother, and career. Not only is the story of Harlean and Chuck gripping, but I loved the details about old Hollywood. Girard brought the houses, parties, and studios to life. I loved this book.

  • Briar Rose
    2019-06-20 14:00

    I LOVE stories about Old Hollywood. I don't know what it is about that era that I love, but I adore it.Platinum Doll was no exception. This is the story of Jean Harlow's descent into stardom. She was in a volatile relationship with her first husband, Charles "Chuck" McGrew, but she really did love him.What drove me nuts was her relationship with her mother and step father. They used her for money and had no qualms about it. They took over her life in exchange for money. Her mother was a controlling person, who ruined her marriage for no reason besides she wanted to be the controlling person in her daughter's life.I was surprised at how much I liked it, but I would have slapped that mother to kingdom come. (view spoiler)[ Oh, Jean needed to get a damn backbone against her mother with that whole forced abortion thing.(hide spoiler)]

  • Sharon
    2019-05-31 18:51

    I don't often get to describe a book as a true page-turner. This one meets the criteria; I finished it over the course of two nights.Author Anne Girard gives us an inside look at the early career of actress Jean Harlow. I am sure I'm not alone in being unaware that Harlow was so young (she was 19 when she starred in "Hell's Angels"). We get a look at her tempestuous early marriage to Chuck McGrew, her domineering stage mother, and the challenges the bookish intellectual faced when being marketed as the first blonde bombshell.Girard's writing is well-paced, and she brings readers into her story with great skill. I found myself alternately cheering and wanting to cry for young Harlean Carpenter as she got caught up in the machine that turned her into Jean Harlow.Well-done historical fiction, highly recommended for Hollywood buffs.

  • Cindy Burnett
    2019-06-15 13:04

    Platinum Doll was a fascinating read, and I could not put it down. I read it while working out, at the car wash, and while making dinner so that I could finish it. The author did a wonderful job portraying the early years of screen legend Jean Harlow’s career. Anne Girard (Diane Haeger) clearly did her research, and Jean Harlow came alive in Platinum Doll. She provided so many details and referenced a number of other stars from that era also. I was constantly on the internet looking up other actors and movies from that time period which made it all the more interesting.After reading about the early years of her career, I want to track down her old movies and see what she actually was like on screen. I highly recommend this novel and was so glad I read it.

  • Ruth Chatlien
    2019-06-01 20:58

    A fast-paced look at the beginning of Jean Harlow's short Hollywood career. I would have liked to see the story continue till her death (which occurred only four years after the end of this story). Still, it's a fun read peppered with lots of behind-the-scene details and loads of big names from early Hollywood. The book also offers an in-depth portrayal of the psychological transformation Harlean McGrew underwent to change from a starstruck teenager into one of the most glamorous and recognizable stars in the film capital's pantheon.

  • Harlequin Books
    2019-06-11 20:06

    "Girard turns her eye for detail to one of Hollywood's most glamorous eras and a woman who gave new meaning to sparkle: Jean Harlow. The fascinating glimpse of such greats as Clara Bow, Carole Lombard, Howard Hughes and makeup artist Max Factor turn this into a novel that gives readers a true sense of being there. A real treat for movie fans" (RT Book Reviews, 4 stars).

  • Kimberly
    2019-05-26 19:04

    Platinum Doll is the perfect read for all Harlow lovers who are interested in reading a novelized version of events covering the first half of her life. It is beautifully written and heartfelt. I however am more interested in Jean Harlow's relationship with Paul Burn and the latter half of her life.