Review + Giveaway – Marlene: A Novel by C.W. Gortner

Marlene: A Novel of Marlene Dietrich
by C.W. Gortner

Publication Date: May 24, 2016
William Morrow
Hardcover & eBook; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062406064

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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, glamour, and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged her own path on her own terms.


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About the Author03_CW Gortner

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.


After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.


In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.


Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.


For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner’s Newsletter for updates.


My Take:


I have a long-running attachment to books by C.W. Gortner. He is on my favorites shelf with more than one story. I’ve enjoyed them immensely and have raved about a couple of them here at One Book Shy: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and The Tudor Secret. Two of my 5 Jewel reviews!


I have found that the author has a real knack for introducing me to strong women in history that I knew little to nothing at all about. Every one of his books has prompted me to learn more about the central characters once I’ve finished the story. This newest offering from Mr. Gortner is no different and is in a much more contemporary setting than the previous historical fiction books of his I’ve read in the past. He ventures into the heyday of old Hollywood with this look at the life of the glamorous German-born Marlene Dietrich. The book is essentially broken into three parts of her tumultuous life: childhood/young woman, film star torn between Hollywood and Nazi Germany’s politics and finally as a beloved Hollywood icon touring with the USO.


One of the things I found quite interesting in this portrayal was the unflinching honesty about who Marlene was and the no-apology way in which she lived her life. The author took a woman who would have been and probably was, very easy to dislike due to her choices in her adult life and has made her into a likeable person that the reader could empathize and almost relate to at times. Her sexuality and promiscuity were the things of legend even while the woman herself tried to remain private while in the public eye. The background of this infamous star was especially interesting as we learned more about her childhood and the effects her mother’s “favoritism” towards the more delicate sister. I found it easy to experience a wide range of emotions as I progressed through the story and her life. As usual with C.W. Gortner, his extensive research shines through with vivid imagery and exquisite details.


I highly recommend this book by C.W. Gortner. Fans of historical and biographical fiction will enjoy this fresh view at a woman who spent her life in the spotlight while trying to actually live in the shadows.

Out of 5 JEWELS, I give it:


Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, May 24
Review at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, May 25
Review at Broken Teepee

Thursday, May 26
Review at To Read, or Not to Read

Friday, May 27
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 30
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Interview at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, May 31
Review at Creating Herstory

Wednesday, June 1
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Review at Books Without Any Pictures

Thursday, June 2
Interview at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Friday, June 3
Review at Just One More Chapter

Sunday, June 5
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, June 6
Review at Girls Just Reading

Tuesday, June 7
Review at The Lit Bitch



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.



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~~~~~ Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own.  I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links.  I may receive books in  order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review – only a completely honest one.  Each review post denotes how I obtained the book. – I received a copy of Marlene from Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for a review. 

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