The Magnificent Esme Wells: A Novel
Fans of Goodfellas and The Godfather who always wanted to know more about the women behind the men in those films will love Adrienne Sharp’s new novel The Magnificent Esme Wells.
Told in various time frames but always in the voice of Esme herself, the book follows one young woman as she grows up with a father, Ike, hellbent on wealth however he can get it and a beautiful mother, Dina, a showgirl in some of Hollywood’s first films. At times tragic and at others sensational, Esme’s life as a child was split between trying to gauge her mother’s moods and keep her father’s confidence. By the time Ike and Esme are in Las Vegas as Ike works for Benny Siegel, the alliances have been drawn too sharply to ever erase.
Esme Wells knows who and what she is, and over the course of the novel she tries to make that knowledge work for her even as it takes her into dangerous relationships with powerful men and risqué performances at the start of Vegas’s long tradition of burlesque. What makes her such a fascinating character is her refusal to apologize for her ambition and her acceptance of the seedy side of life if it means getting what she wants.
Alternately violent and poignant, nostalgic and hopeful, The Magnificent Esme Wells is the kind of book you want to reread the minute you finish it because you miss the characters. You miss the glamour and grime. You miss that feeling of hoping, even when all the evidence is to the contrary, that maybe just this once everything will be okay.
Chris Hayden has been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.
|Page Count||352 pages|
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