Synopses & Reviews
A Bookpage Best Books of 2012 pick
The enchanting story of a midwestern girl who escapes a family tragedy and is remade as a movie star during Hollywoods golden age.
In 1920, Elsa Emerson, the youngest and blondest of three sisters, is born in idyllic Door County, Wisconsin. Her family owns the Cherry County Playhouse, and more than anything, 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 child¹s game of pretend.
While still in her teens, Elsa marries and flees to Los Angeles. There she is discovered by Irving Green, one of the most powerful executives in Hollywood, who refashions her as a serious, exotic brunette and renames her Laura Lamont. Irving becomes Lauras great love; she becomes an Academy Award-winning actressand a genuine movie star. Laura experiences all the glamour and extravagance of the heady pinnacle of stardom in the studio-system era, but ultimately her story is a timeless one of a woman trying to balance career, family, and personal happiness, all while remaining true to herself.
Ambitious and richly imagined, Laura Lamonts Life in Pictures is as intimateand as bigger-than-lifeas the great films of the golden age of Hollywood. Written with warmth and verve, it confirms Emma Straubs reputation as one of the most exciting new talents in fiction.
"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.”—Entertainment Weekly
“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
“Laura Lamont might be the most anticipated debut of the year. It's easy to understand the hullabaloo; Straub's style is clear and engaging, and her plot balances the glamour of the Hollywood Golden Age with trenchant thematic links to issues of contemporary working women. The result is a delightful, entertaining read with substance.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Like the protagonist in her new novel, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Emma Straub is a rising star.”—TimeOut Chicago
“Will appeal to any girl who has left a small town behind to follow her dreams to the big city.”—Marie Claire
“Dramatic, human and historical: like a classic Hollywood movie…Straub knows when to linger and when to be brief, and her portrayal of Elsa/Laura’s relationships is exquisite…Peppered with stunningly crafted sentences and heart-twisting storytelling, the richness of this full life is portrayed with perceptive clarity.”—BUST Magazine
“Straub imbues her writing with surprising insights and wit… [her] writing reminds the reader how good literary fiction can precisely capture the human experience.”—Pop Matters
“Other People We Married
is a revelation.”
—Lorrie Moore, author of Birds of America and A Gate at the Stairs
“Emma Straub is worthy of our adoration. These stories are wise, surprising, hilarious, and unforgettable.”
—Karen Russell, author of St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Swamplandia!
“Emma Straub is a wry, witty, incisively observant writer.”
—Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply
“Emma Straub’s stories mean that there are fewer lonely people in the world; they are the best kind of company. I’m giddy about their very existence, the way you get giddy when you meet someone you’d like to know for a long, long time. I look forward to knowing Emma Straub’s fiction for a long, long time.”
—Thisbe Nissen, author of The Good People of New York and Osprey Island
“Razor sharp and tenderhearted, funny and wrenching. Emma Straub’s stories take place in all the messy, fascinating, uncanny corners of contemporary relationships.”
—Kelly Link, author of Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners
“Emma Straub has such a graceful, brittle, subversive voice that it takes a moment after you surface from her stories, drugged with pleasure and ringing with sharp insight, to realize how deeply she loves and understands humanity. Other People We Married is a terrific collection of stories, and Emma Straub is a joyous marvel of a writer.”
—Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton and Delicate Edible Birds
“The smarts and humor of a Lorrie Moore or a Laurie Colwin or a Laurie Anderson—any number of Lauries.”
—Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead, for the Oxford American
A Bookpage Best Books of 2012 pick
At once a delicious depiction of Hollywoods golden age and a sweet, fulfilling story about one womans journey through fame, love, and loss.”Boston Globe
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 childs 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 Lamonts Life in Pictures is as intimateand as bigger-than-lifeas the great films of the golden age of Hollywood.
In Other People We Married, Straub creates characters as recognizable as a best friend, and follows them through moments of triumph and transformation with wit, vulnerability, and dazzling insight. In “Some People Must Really Fall in Love,” an assistant professor takes halting steps into the awkward world of office politics while harboring feelings for a freshman student. Two sisters struggle with old assumptions about each other as they stumble to build a new relationship in “A Map of Modern Palm Springs.” In “Puttanesca,” two widows move tentatively forward, still surrounded by ghosts and disappointments from the past. These twelve stories, filled with sharp humor, emotional acuity, and joyful language, announce the arrival of a major new talent.
About the Author
Emma Straub is from New York City. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Vacationers and Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published by Tin House, The Paris Review Daily, Time, Slate, and The New York Times, and she is a staff writer for Rookie. Straub lives with her husband in Brooklyn, where she also works as a bookseller.