Friday, March 8, 2024

Book Review for Can't We Be Friends by Denny S. Bryce and Eliza Knight

 Can't We Be Friends: A Novel of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Denny S. Bryce, Eliza Knight

Published March 5, 2024 by William Morrow Paperbacks

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Taken from Goodreads:
Award-winning author Denny S. Bryce and USA Today bestselling author Eliza Knight collaborate on a brilliant novel that uncovers the boundary-breaking, genuine friendship between Ella Fitzgerald, the Queen of Jazz, and iconic movie star Marilyn Monroe.  One woman was recognized as the premiere singer of her era with perfect pitch and tireless ambition. One woman was the most glamorous star in Hollywood, a sex symbol who took the world by storm. And their friendship was fast and firm… 1952: Ella Fitzgerald is a renowned jazz singer whose only roadblock to longevity is society’s attitude toward women and race. Marilyn Monroe’s star is rising despite ongoing battles with movie studio bigwigs and boyfriends. When she needs help with her singing, she wants only the best—and the best is the brilliant Ella Fitzgerald. But Ella isn’t a singing teacher and declines—then the two women meet, and to everyone’s surprise but their own, they become fast friends. On the surface, what could they have in common? Yet each was underestimated by the men in their lives—husbands, managers, hangers-on. And both were determined to gain. Each fought for professional independence and personal agency in a time when women were expected to surrender control to those same men. This novel reveals and celebrates their surprising bond over a decade and serves as a poignant reminder of how true friendship can cross differences to bolster and sustain us through haunting heartbreak and wild success.

My Thoughts:  Two of the biggest stars of the past share their friendship in the book Can’t We Be Friends.   Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald have more in common then just being stars.   I enjoyed hearing about their pasts while watching them become each other’s sounding boards as Hollywood’s pressures come knocking on their doors.    They turn to each other in good times and bad times.   It was interesting to see how different their experiences are while both growing up wanting to never be hungry again.  

Imagine working alongside Frank Sinatra, being married to Joe DiMaggio, performing at all the iconic halls…I could picture it all as I read the book.     I could see the crowds cheering as they performed, the paparazzi with their cameras at every turn forcing Marilyn and Ella to be “on” every time they stepped out of their own houses.   The lives they lived were charmed but had many very rough times and these ladies were lucky to have each other.  

I love historical fiction but a historical fiction book about characters that I did not know enough about is wonderful.  I walked away with so much more knowledge and compassion for the life of a star.

Thank you William Morrow for a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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