Book Reviews

Book Review: Marlene: A Novel of Marlene Dietrich

02_MarleneFrom Goodreads: A lush, dramatic biographical novel of one of the most glamorous and alluring legends of Hollywood’s golden age, Marlene Dietrich—from the gender-bending cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the lush film studios of Hollywood, a sweeping story of passion, glamour, ambition, art, and war from the author of Mademoiselle Chanel.

Raised in genteel poverty after the First World War, Maria Magdalena Dietrich dreams of a life on the stage. When a budding career as a violinist is cut short, the willful teenager vows to become a singer, trading her family’s proper, middle-class society for the free-spirited, louche world of Weimar Berlin’s cabarets and drag balls. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, seductive silk cocktail dresses, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene performs to packed houses and becomes entangled in a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention.

For the beautiful, desirous Marlene, neither fame nor marriage and motherhood can cure her wanderlust. As Hitler and the Nazis rise to power, she sets sail for America. Rivaling the success of another European import, Greta Garbo, Marlene quickly becomes one of Hollywood’s leading ladies, starring with legends such as Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. Desperate for her return, Hitler tries to lure her with dazzling promises. Marlene instead chooses to become an American citizen, and after her new nation is forced into World War II, she tours with the USO, performing for thousands of Allied troops in Europe and Africa.

But one day she returns to Germany. Escorted by General George Patton himself, Marlene is heartbroken by the war’s devastation and the evil legacy of the Third Reich that has transformed her homeland and the family she loved.

An enthralling and insightful account of this extraordinary legend, Marlene reveals the inner life of a woman of grit, glamor, and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged her own path on her own terms.

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My Thoughts:

For most of the book, I felt like I was sitting across the table enjoying a cup of tea. Marlene’s voice was clear throughout the story. I felt that by the end of the story I felt like I was an old friend, with a slight girl crush.Marlene is by far one of the top ten most complex characters I have ever read.

Through Marlene’s eyes, we get a glimpse of into the wild party that was pre-war Berlin. Which makes things all the more devastating when World War II breaks out. I had heard that pre-war Berlin was a party town but seriously, through Marlene’s eyes, it puts Las Vegas to shame.

It’s under this backdrop of World War II that we see a rich cast of supporting characters that have an influence on Marlene’s life. From early lovers to some well-known names. As a side note, I shall forever be grateful to Gortner for the mental image of Gary Cooper slipping out Marlene’s back window in only his underwear. We see the effects of the war and how so many people, German and Jewish alike who were caught up in the mess of World War II. Marlene, herself, was caught in the middle. Afraid to say anything but yet outraged by the atrocities that were going on in her homeland. It is an internal conflict that resonates with so may people today.

Posting this review on Memorial Day is somewhat timely. Marlene spent a lot of time entertaining the troops with USO during the war. So much so that she bypassed the USO and went along with General Patton just so that she could be at the front bringing joy to the soldiers. When my husband was down range he looked forward to those USO shows, even if it was some D-list celebrity. Life on the front is dangerous and monotonous. The same job day in day out, no weekends, no family. But to have that little bit of home. That little bit of someone taking your mind off of being shot at means the world to them. And seeing how much it meant to Marlene to be able to do that makes those of us who are civilians understand it all the more.

And now without further ado:


To enter the Marlene Blog Tour Giveaway please see the GLEAM form below.

  • Winner #1 will receive a copy of Marlene by C.W. Gortner.
  • Winner #2 will receive a copy of Marlene by C.W. Gortner & a Marlene-inspired necklace and matching bracelet. Hand-beaded in Guatemala, lime-green and purple beads. Necklace is Egyptian-style drape, and bracelet has centerpiece purple floral gemstone design.


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Click the link below to enter:



2 thoughts on “Book Review: Marlene: A Novel of Marlene Dietrich

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