The Girls in the Picture
An intimate portrait of the close friendship and powerful creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female superstars: Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. An enchanting new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife.Hollywood, 1914. Frances Marion, a young writer desperate for a break, meets “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, already making a name for herself both on and off the screen with her golden curls and lively spirit. Together, these two women will take the movie business by storm.Mary Pickford becomes known as the “Queen of the Movies”—the first actor to have her name on a movie marquee, and the first to become a truly international celebrity. Mary and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, were America’s first Royal Couple, living in a home more famous that Buckingham Palace. Mary won the first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Talkie and was the first to put her hand and footprints in Grauman’s theater sidewalk. Her annual salary in 1919 was $625,000—at a time when women’s salaries peaked at $10 a week. Frances Marion is widely considered one of the most important female screenwriters of the 20th century, and was the first writer to win multiple Academy Awards. The close personal friendship between the two stars was closely linked to their professional collaboration and success.This is a novel about power: the power of women during the exhilarating early years of Hollywood, and the power of forgiveness. It’s also about the imbalance of power, then and now, and the sacrifices and compromises women must make in order to succeed. And at its heart, it’s a novel about the power of female friendship.

The Girls in the Picture Details

TitleThe Girls in the Picture
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 16th, 2018
PublisherDelacorte Press
ISBN-139781101886809
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction

The Girls in the Picture Review

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    5 epic, huggable, flickering stars to The Girls in the Picture ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Before reading this book, what I knew about Mary Pickford, America’s Sweetheart, was vague. I knew even less about her best friend and prolific screenwriter, Frances Marion. As I read this, I kept thinking this book is epic. This book was engrossing, unputdownable, thorough, perfectly written. I can’t imagine two more fully-developed and well-crafted “characters” than Mary and Frances, and it’s a bonus that they were based 5 epic, huggable, flickering stars to The Girls in the Picture ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Before reading this book, what I knew about Mary Pickford, America’s Sweetheart, was vague. I knew even less about her best friend and prolific screenwriter, Frances Marion. As I read this, I kept thinking this book is epic. This book was engrossing, unputdownable, thorough, perfectly written. I can’t imagine two more fully-developed and well-crafted “characters” than Mary and Frances, and it’s a bonus that they were based on real life people and heaps of research carried out by the author. Just as I knew little of Pickford and Marion, I knew even less about these early days of Hollywood. The silent flickers, Charlie Chaplin, the first talkies, and the founding of major film studios. I love learning new things while I read, which is why historical fiction continues to be a favorite genre of mine. These things were just the cherry on top of the sundae because the heart of the story was the ever-evolving, endearingly relatable, and complex friendship between Mary and Frances. Anyone who has had a lifelong friend will be able to relate to at least some of the waxing and waning, affection and strife, that the two experienced. In addition to their friendship, these two had full, adventurous lives, which made me their stories even more enthralling. An important message was the role of women, especially strong, trailblazing women, in early Hollywood. It was interesting to read this book just after another WWI book (Last Christmas in Paris), which also featured a female journalist and war correspondent. It was also fascinating to read about Hollywood and the US during that war to get a different perspective from England and France who had no choice but to be fully immersed in the war from its inception. If you are a fan of historical fiction, especially involving early Hollywood, this is an absolute must-read. Fabulous book! I also wanted to add, I put in one of my updates that this reminded me a bit of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo because of the old Hollywood feel and “a few” (not seven! 😆) Hollywood marriages.I happen to have all of Melanie Benjamin’s backlist purchased previously and somehow languishing unread. After finishing this book, I’ll be making sure I carve out time to read each of her other books. I’m hoping for some more epic historical reads! Thanks to Melanie Benjamin, Random House/Delacorte Press, and Netgalley, for the complimentary ARC. The Girls in the Picture releases on January 16, 2018.
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  • Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
    January 1, 1970
    You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.I really enjoyed The Swans of Fifth Avenue and started getting excited about The Girls in the Picture as soon as it was announced. In fact, it was the book I was most excited about receiving at Book Expo 2017. Melanie Benjamin was as much a delight in person, at her in-booth signing, as she is on her social media accounts. She even allowed me to blather on about her kitchen reno (it looks fantastic) and her cats at some length without You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.I really enjoyed The Swans of Fifth Avenue and started getting excited about The Girls in the Picture as soon as it was announced. In fact, it was the book I was most excited about receiving at Book Expo 2017. Melanie Benjamin was as much a delight in person, at her in-booth signing, as she is on her social media accounts. She even allowed me to blather on about her kitchen reno (it looks fantastic) and her cats at some length without calling security.As for the book, it did not disappoint. It’s very evident that the author did an enormous amount of research on Mary Pickford and Frances Marion, their families, lovers, husbands, and the movie industry itself. I was fascinated by the actual events leading to their rise to power in Hollywood.The elements that made this book special, however, are the character development and the portrayal of the relationship between Mary and Frances. Melanie Benjamin has taken the historic information and weaved in a little imagination/magic, creating characters that are beyond multi-dimensional. They are as highly nuanced as their relationships with one another.In reading The Girls in the Picture, I was constantly reminded of the sacrifice and struggles women have always had to make in order to get to the tops of their professions. Hollywood was certainly no exception, then or now. Their fast, glamorous, monied lives did not come at no cost.This book is an excellent exploration of the friendships of strong women – admiration, respect, mutual dependency, jealousy, insecurity – it’s all here in a very real way. Though their friendship was tumultuous at time, I felt that their connection transcended the trivialities of the moment. The end of the book made me teary and reflective of some of my own friendships.After reading these two latest novels, I’d definitely look forward to reading anything Melanie Benjamin writes in the future but I’d also love to read some of her previous works.Many thanks to Delacorte Press for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Theresa Alan
    January 1, 1970
    This is a novel I will be recommending to everyone. Historical fiction, The Girls in the Picture is a book for everyone who has an interest in the evolution of film and of women trying to be taken seriously in the workplace.Frances doesn't want to be an actress, but she wants to be a part of the movies, and she finds her niche as a "scenarist" during the era of silent films, when the "flickers" were considered a low form of entertainment and certainly not an art form. She becomes great friends w This is a novel I will be recommending to everyone. Historical fiction, The Girls in the Picture is a book for everyone who has an interest in the evolution of film and of women trying to be taken seriously in the workplace.Frances doesn't want to be an actress, but she wants to be a part of the movies, and she finds her niche as a "scenarist" during the era of silent films, when the "flickers" were considered a low form of entertainment and certainly not an art form. She becomes great friends with Mary, who has been on the stage taking care of the rest of her family since she was just eight years old. Mary comes to the flickers because of the money. The two women are at the forefront of a burgeoning industry, which means becoming the first movie stars with rabid fans.The story covers the challenges of the casting couch for female actresses. Women can't take time off for children--men don't have that worry and can have all the kids they want. All the Harvey Weinstein-esque terrible sexual behavior existed then, but perhaps worse was that women's ideas were also belittled. Marriage, life, and careers strain their friendship. The Girls in the Picture is a masterfully written novel about the personal and professional bonds of women during a fascinating time in history. Thanks so much to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book, which RELEASES JAN 16, 2018.For more of my reviews, please visit http://www.theresaalan.net/blog
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  • ☮Karen
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsAbout a century ago, actress Mary Pickford and scenarist Frances Marion were best friends as their young careers were just taking off. Together, they forged new paths for women in their industry, with Mary forming United Artist's studio with husband Douglas Fairbanks, and Frances being the best and highest paid female screenwriter. With today's spotlight on Hollywood's so-called casting couch, this story was quite timely in detailing how that term started, when these two women were in t 3.5 starsAbout a century ago, actress Mary Pickford and scenarist Frances Marion were best friends as their young careers were just taking off. Together, they forged new paths for women in their industry, with Mary forming United Artist's studio with husband Douglas Fairbanks, and Frances being the best and highest paid female screenwriter. With today's spotlight on Hollywood's so-called casting couch, this story was quite timely in detailing how that term started, when these two women were in their thirties, their careers winding down. Despite the strides made by these women, men still held the power and got away with pinching and feeling up whatever female body parts they desired. Actresses who had babies, even those who were married, risked outrage from their fans, while actors and studio heads could sire a dozen or more children with no such risks.Told in alternating chapters from each of the women's points of view, the book was certainly interesting, but not in a "can't wait to get back to that book" way. It is honest and forthcoming, which makes for a likeable historical fiction tale. It tells of two friends who grew estranged for different reasons, but were together courageous pioneers in their fields and impacted the film industry just as much as any of the studio heads of their time. Unfortunately, I thought it a bit repetitive and on the longish side. My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy.
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  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    Engrossing story of Mary Pickford and Frances Marion, two pioneers in the movie industry, beginning in 1914. Mary Pickford starred in "flickers" (silent movies) and was known as America's sweetheart. Frances Marion became a famous screenwriter - one of the first females in the industry. The two women became very close friends, and this is the story of their friendship. It is also the story of the very beginnings of the movies and Hollywood, and famous film stars. Mary and Frances are very close Engrossing story of Mary Pickford and Frances Marion, two pioneers in the movie industry, beginning in 1914. Mary Pickford starred in "flickers" (silent movies) and was known as America's sweetheart. Frances Marion became a famous screenwriter - one of the first females in the industry. The two women became very close friends, and this is the story of their friendship. It is also the story of the very beginnings of the movies and Hollywood, and famous film stars. Mary and Frances are very close and their friendship is a strong bond. However, there are many ups and downs in their friendship and insecurities that cause pain. There is an element of jealousy from both women that affects the friendship. Also, their marriages certainly had an effect on the friendship as well.If you like movie history you will like this book. I really enjoyed it. It read very much like a memoir and most of the events actually happened, although the dialogue was fictional. Thanks to Melanie Benjamin and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine through Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Toni
    January 1, 1970
    Women are back in the news to regain their place among men in what we always think is "a man's world." Back in 1910 through 1920 two smart women made their imprint in the growing stages of Hollywood in that critical transition from silent era to "talkies." Even many big name stars fell by the side of the road during this major event.Mary Pickford started out as that little girl with the golden curls, but what no one knew at the time was that underneath all that innocence was a tough, competitive Women are back in the news to regain their place among men in what we always think is "a man's world." Back in 1910 through 1920 two smart women made their imprint in the growing stages of Hollywood in that critical transition from silent era to "talkies." Even many big name stars fell by the side of the road during this major event.Mary Pickford started out as that little girl with the golden curls, but what no one knew at the time was that underneath all that innocence was a tough, competitive businesswoman. Her friend, who she met by the grace of God and the will of seeking employment, was Frances Marion, a creative writer persistent on becoming a screenwriter. She had more stories in her than she knew what to do with. Together these women were the highest paid actor and screenwriter in the 1920's and they just happened to be women. Their story is a must read! Mary Pickford founded United Artists with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and DW Griffin, to buck the studio system in 1919. She also founded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, (the Oscars); and the Motion Picture Fund, to help aging actors no longer working.Frances Marion wrote many famous films, some favorites are: Big House, Dinner at Eight (my favorite), The Champ, Anne of Green Gables, and many more. Naturally, their story is more complex than their awards, they had many personal hardships in their lives as well. If you love classic film, this book covers these two profound women in depth, so I encourage you to read it.Thank you Netgalley!
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoy historical fiction books but had never read anything about the early days of the movies. This book covered the careers of Mary Pickford, one of America's first movie stars and Frances Marion, an early screenwriter. The author had done significant research into the lives and careers of both of these women and the story was both educational and great fun to read. Mary and Frances became great friends and stuck with each other through good and bad. They were actually very liberated for the I enjoy historical fiction books but had never read anything about the early days of the movies. This book covered the careers of Mary Pickford, one of America's first movie stars and Frances Marion, an early screenwriter. The author had done significant research into the lives and careers of both of these women and the story was both educational and great fun to read. Mary and Frances became great friends and stuck with each other through good and bad. They were actually very liberated for the time and vowed that no man would come between them. They stood up to studio heads and directors to get their way in the early movies and Frances wrote movies for Mary Pickford to star in. They knew that they were looked down on for being women but vowed to stay strong together. Their friendship was ruined by (of course) a man -- Mary fell in love with Douglas Fairbanks and her entire attitude changed as she began to live life the way he wanted to and seemed to lose herself in the relationship.This is the story of two strong women in the early days of Hollywood. Their friendship and the changes they tried to make in their world are a great story to read. I've gone back to read information about both of them. I'd heard of Mary Pickford but never Frances Marion - who was a very well known screen writer who earned two Academy Awards. This is a very well written and well-researched book and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks to goodreads for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Martie Nees Record
    January 1, 1970
    Genre: Historical FictionPub. Date: January 16, 2018Publisher: Random HouseMelanie Benjamin is a favorite author of mine. She writes in a distinctive genre that I favor known as Historical Autobiographical Fiction. It is reading historical fiction as if you are reading the memoir of the real-life main character. To work, this genre needs to be as well-researched as it is well-written. Also, the reader needs to remember that no matter how knowledgeable, the author is not privy to the actual thoug Genre: Historical FictionPub. Date: January 16, 2018Publisher: Random HouseMelanie Benjamin is a favorite author of mine. She writes in a distinctive genre that I favor known as Historical Autobiographical Fiction. It is reading historical fiction as if you are reading the memoir of the real-life main character. To work, this genre needs to be as well-researched as it is well-written. Also, the reader needs to remember that no matter how knowledgeable, the author is not privy to the actual thoughts of the protagonist (Benjamin reminds us in her endnotes). I think Benjamin always pulls off this style of writing. So far I have been lucky enough to review three of her works prepublication: “The Aviator's Wife” (Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh), “The Swans of Fifth Avenue” (Truman Capote and Babe Paley), and even “The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb” had me captivated. For these reasons, I was thrilled to be given an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of Benjamin’s “The Girls in the Picture” on the early days of Hollywood, concentrating on the lives of screenwriter Frances Marion and the first superstar actress, Mary Pickford. This is Benjamin’s first book for which my review won't be full of praise for her talents. But let me start by stating what I did enjoy about the novel, which is a good portion of the book. I was engrossed in learning about the birth of the movies in Old Hollywood. I especially enjoyed learning about the technical side of moviemaking in those days. It wasn’t unusual for the actors themselves to splice and piece the film back together. Actors also frequently went behind the camera to get a better understanding of how a scene would play out. Mary Pickford always did both. Plus, the author does a terrific job describing the details of the WWI era and weaving in how the magic of movie making effected that generation. The industry started out making “flickers” on the streets (there were no sets) with street entertainers such as Charlie Chaplin. These silent movies were watched in Nickelodeons. One will also learn about the beginnings of the Hollywood studios, and how it took the creativity out of the hands of the actors, and how the silent films turned into “talkies,” ruining many careers, and causing some stars to sell their mansions. As Pickford once said, “Adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo.” I also got a kick out of reading that Pickford and Fairbanks were the original Liz and Dick. Once they married each other, their lifestyles suddenly changed and they became world famous and rich beyond their wildest dreams. Their 18-acre estate in Beverly Hills was called “Pickfair” predating the mashups of celebrity couples’ names like "Brangelina" and "Bennifer" by nearly a century.The reader discovers that Mary Pickford and Frances Marion were two groundbreaking innovators of American film. The story is told from two points of view: Pickford's and Marion's. (Though Marion is written in the first person and Pickford in the third, which made Marion seem more real and autobiographical). The story of Mary Pickford’s tough early years on the stage, struggling to support her mother and two siblings, reminded me of Natalie Wood’s life story. The family was dirt poor and she alone supported them. By 1915, Pickford had become the most famous movie actress in the United States. She was dubbed "America's Sweetheart," known as “Girl with the Golden Curls.” The irony wasn’t lost on Mary, because she knew that she never had a childhood. Additionally, I found out that she was also an early feminist. She became one of the few actors and sole woman in those first years to battle the studio system and take control of her own work and career. Frances Marion also believed women were equal to men and elbowed her way into the Hollywood experience. She was new to the movie industry when Mary was already a star. They soon became fast friends. Frances gained entry into the world of "moving pictures" by becoming a screenwriter, then known as a “scenarist." She wrote many of Mary's most popular pictures, including the 1917 film, “Poor Little Rich Girl.” Mary did not do well in the “talkies” with her modern, bobbed hair. Her fans only wanted to see the little girl with the curls. She blamed this on Marion, who wrote petite Pickford as a child. Unlike Mary, Frances remained successful after Mary’s career was over. She continued to write screenplays, remaining the highest paid screenwriter. She went on to win two Academy Awards (the first woman to do so), all while fighting chauvinistic male studio heads. So why did this novel lose some of my praise? In the middle of the book, these two successful business women, pioneers of their time, began talking like lovesick teenagers about their future husbands. The once crisp and compelling dialogue became just plain old silly and in complete contrast to their established personalities. I actually cringed at some of the corny lines that the author would never have penned to come out of their mouths in the first half of the story. When Frances meets her husband (her first love), it reads like a script from an old Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney film, “Love Finds Andy Hardy,” rather than a mature woman finding love. The silliness is emphasized by the fact that this is her third marriage. And, they meet while he is a soldier in the hospital during the war. This venue is not conducive for the sugary tone of their romance. When Mary divorces her first husband and marries Fairbanks (her first love), she too begins talking like a teenager in love. Suddenly, Pickford, a woman with much skill in financial affairs, who was the brains in the marriage, starts acting flaky and puts her husband before her career. When Fairbanks started to cheat on her I was waiting for the author to throw in a verse of Lesley Gore’s song, “It’s My Party, and I’ll Cry if I Want To.” I was so disappointed that I found myself skimming the mushy pages. I realize that characters do evolve in a story, it usually improves the story. But this was a complete 180 and not believable. With that said, overall, I can say that if you don’t know much about the history of early American filmmaking and wish to then I recommend this book. Just know that it can read simultaneously sappy and splendid.I received this novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.Find all my book reviews at:https://www.goodreads.com/review/list...https://books6259.wordpress.com/
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  • Ethel
    January 1, 1970
    The Girls in the PictureThe year is 1914 and the movie industry is just beginning to flourish, known as the "flickers" the silent movies are gaining in popularity. Mary Pickford has already become "America's Sweetheart while Frances Marion, recently settled in Los Angeles, is not only enamored of the new industry, but gains entry into the world of "moving pictures" becoming a screenwriter. Both women become fast friends, similar in many ways, yet their background quite the opposite. While Pickfo The Girls in the PictureThe year is 1914 and the movie industry is just beginning to flourish, known as the "flickers" the silent movies are gaining in popularity. Mary Pickford has already become "America's Sweetheart while Frances Marion, recently settled in Los Angeles, is not only enamored of the new industry, but gains entry into the world of "moving pictures" becoming a screenwriter. Both women become fast friends, similar in many ways, yet their background quite the opposite. While Pickford supported her family from the age of 8, with little education and always on the brink of poverty, Marion came from a much different family. Brought up in San Francisco, well educated, in a large home, and no money problems. Yet they were very much alike, both career driven, always thinking on their feet, both looking for the next opportunity. Pickford became the "Queen of the Movies" receiving an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Talkie and Marion received her fair share of Academy Awards as well. But the story relates to their close friendship, the bond that brought them much success in their professional years. However there was heartache as Pickford put her career above her private life. There was jealousy on both sides, for as close as both women were, times of jealousy and anger threatened that bond. What we read here is the story of two friends who were strong, overcoming obstacles that were thrown in their way by the men who were most powerful. Showing their strength and power at a time when the fledgling movie industry was just becoming exciting, we see how their sacrifices of these women enable them to succeed in a world of men. Reading this you can appreciate that times really haven't changed. The "casting couch" is still available, still an "open" secret (as we now, more than ever can attest to) men are still making it difficult for women, not only in this industry. The more things change the more they stay the same...and even when brought to life, they never change.This book was well written, as Ms. Benjamin always gives us 5 star novels...this is one of her best! I would highly recommend this book for those who love historical fiction, for those who love reading about the movie industry, and especially for those who enjoy a great book. It was a privilege to read this advanced edition of the novel.Thanks to NetGalley for sending this book to me in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    Stories about Hollywood's beginnings are like catnip to me and this story is about two powerful women with a strong friendship. Mary Pickford the silent film actress and Marion Frances a screenwriter or scenarist as they were called then dream and work together and along the way become string friends and achieve lots. Most people will recognize Mary's name but Marion is based on a real person as well. I was surprised at how closely Benjamin sticks to the facts while necessarily imagining the wom Stories about Hollywood's beginnings are like catnip to me and this story is about two powerful women with a strong friendship. Mary Pickford the silent film actress and Marion Frances a screenwriter or scenarist as they were called then dream and work together and along the way become string friends and achieve lots. Most people will recognize Mary's name but Marion is based on a real person as well. I was surprised at how closely Benjamin sticks to the facts while necessarily imagining the women's interactions.From its beginnings movies were haphazardly thrown together with art a kind of red haired second cousin but gradually that began to change with Mary and Frances in the vanguard. They had to fight being pegeonholed as women but strangely the field was so wide open at its inception that they were able to sneak in and create at is until the New York money took notice and began to control the product. That's when things became more difficult. The story includes Frances's experiences in WWl when she went to Europe to film the nurses and other women involved in the war. Also included is Mary's struggle to find happiness with her all time love Douglas Fairbanks. Th Girls in the Picture is equally sad and exhilarating but it's always fun to read.Thank you to the publisher for providing an advance reader's copy.
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