Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures
Emma Straub

Riverhead Books
Hardcover/320 pages
ISBN: 9781594488450
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". . . mesmerizing in its simplicity."

Quite simply, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures is seductive and addictive, book crack of the best kind.

Elsa Emerson is the youngest of three daughters born to a life at the Cherry County Playhouse run by her parents, her father the director and her mother support staff. When Elsa takes the stage in her first role as a flower girl at a wedding, she is hooked. She wants to be an actress, to be part of the magical world.

Elsa marries Gordon-from-Florida (Gordon Pitts) and they move to Hollywood to become movie stars. Gordon gets a contract right away and Elsa gets pregnant. It is when she is pregnant with their second child that she meets Gordon's boss, Irving Green, at a studio party. He tells her to come see him after she has the baby and loses 30 pounds. She will be Laura Lamont, unmarried, a rising star in Hollywood's sky. Thus begins Laura’s life in the movies and the adventure really begins.

Emma Straub recreates the world of the studio system in Hollywood with attention to the smallest details. Laura drifts along her life as though in a dream with the incredible luck of becoming exactly what she wanted to be—a movie star. She makes few decisions, does what she is told, and finds herself married to a man she adores, her boss Irving Green.

What follows in Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures is an accurate picture of what life was like when movie stars were protected and corralled by the system and just as easily rewarded and tossed aside when their private lives proved too intrusive and too cumbersome to spin through the PR machine.

Straub drew me into Elsa/Laura’s world with subtlety, telling a good story with a balance of passion and pathos that kept the pages turning. Straub chronicles Elsa and Laura’s lives, accurate to the smallest detail, without being fussy. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures is mesmerizing in its simplicity. I found the book difficult to put down to return to the real world. Straub has created that most elusive of stories, one that stays with you long after the tale has been told.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell