Laura Lamont’s Life In Pictures by Emma Straub

Laura Lamont's Life in PicturesThe bright lights of Hollywood had always been beckoning Elsa Emerson. Growing up in a small-town theatre run by her parents, the stage was her home. That she would leave the idyllic surroundings of her childhood became inevitable once the security she had known was destroyed by a family tragedy. So, at the first opportunity, Elsa flees, searching for a new and bigger life.

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures tells the story of Elsa’s transformation into Laura, the glamorous film star. Her decision to leave home, with the first opportunity in the form of Gordon-from-Florida, to pursue her dreams sets her on a tumultuous journey. Elsa goes from teenager to wife and mother rapidly, and her dreams seem further away than ever. Gordon finds work at the Gardner Brothers Studios, whilst Elsa is left behind to look after the family and home. Her lucky break comes at a studio party, where she is spotted by studio boss Irving Green. She leaves with a new identity and a promise. But her good fortune comes at the cost of Gordon’s. As she becomes a star, he becomes a bum – cast aside, useless, unwanted. It was no heady romance between the two, but even so, as Laura she casts him aside with great ease.

It’s a fascinating study in the price of fame, and who pays it. Laura seemingly has it all; success, acclaim, awards, money, a new loving and much loved husband. But she still lacks some fundamentally important things. Moving away causes an irreparable breach with her mother. Never a particularly demonstrative woman, she cuts Laura off without a backwards glance. Laura also lacks independence. Her decisions are made for her by the studio, and by her husband Irving. The happier and more secure she feels, the more dependant she becomes. Despite her burning desire to act she does so less and less; I felt that she was losing herself. But, there’s more to come to come from Laura Lamont.

By the end of the book, I adored Laura. Life throws some awful stuff at her, she rises to the challenge time after time. Her moments of weakness are understandable, and she’s not always well-served by family and friends. She stays full of love through the sadness and pain, and comes back strong. I enjoyed the writing, and thought Straub get’s inside Laura’s head and let’s us walk with her too. The glitz and glamour of Hollywood in its heyday is vividly described, but for me it’s the suffering and sacrifice just under the surface that will stay with me the longest. 

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