A novice nun suddenly finds herself dismissed from her convent and swept up into the heady world of Hollywood’s golden age.
Alda Ducci did nothing to merit exile from St. Elizabeth’s Infant Hospital, a haven for unwed mothers. Indeed, Alda has worked very hard these past six years: six years of helping unwed mothers give up their babies. Six years since she fled Italy with heartaches and secrets of her own. But her mother superior is convinced that Alda can never let go of her dreams to help these poor women, so she sends her out into the world to become a private secretary to actress Loretta Young. The shift from poverty to luxury jars Alda, as well as the reader, although she endeavors to see the spiritual mission beneath the glamour. Loretta welcomes Alda into her family and her home, which she shares with her three sisters and her mother, Gladys, a talented interior designer and shrewd businesswoman. Within days, Alda has become indispensable to Loretta, and the two women bond to form an indomitable team, although Loretta steals nearly every scene. Dashing men, starry-eyed ingénues, jealous spouses—all the players are well-cast as Alda helps Loretta negotiate the studio system, the Hays Code, and thwarted romances. Loretta works hard, not simply studying her lines, but often rewriting them into a code her dyslexia understands. Yet she can't help but fall in love with her every leading man. Drawn to Spencer Tracy, Loretta must lean heavily upon her Catholic faith—and friend David Niven’s humor—to avoid temptation. Clark Gable proves even more difficult to resist. Trigiani (The Supreme Macaroni Company, 2013, etc.), a filmmaker as well as a bestselling novelist, spins a tale of star-crossed lovers, yet the rather flat prose dims the glow of the silver screen.
A heartwarming tale of women’s lives behind the movies.