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Amid the waning days of World War II, Ingrid Bergman meets the dashing war photographer Robert Capa.

Poet and screenplay writer Greenhalgh’s (Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, 2009, etc.) novel evokes a world of glamour and danger. Traveling from battle to battle, Robert Capa still grieves for his business partner and fiancee, Gerda Taro (nee Pohorylle), who died in Madrid documenting the Spanish Civil War. Alcohol and gambling, however, keep those feelings tamped down. The acclaimed star of CasablancaFor Whom the Bell Tolls and Gaslight, Bergman leads a quiet life in a chilly marriage to Petter Lindstrom. Lindstrom controls and criticizes Bergman’s every move, even pulling her home from her own Academy Award celebration. Invited to entertain the American troops in Europe, Bergman longs to escape, even though it means leaving her young daughter, Pia, behind. From across the lobby—crowded with the starlet’s admirers—of the Ritz Hotel in Paris, Capa glimpses Bergman’s radiantly beautiful face. Emboldened by his friend—future novelist Irwin Shaw—Capa invites Bergman to dinner, and she surprisingly accepts, setting in motion a whirlwind affair. As in any romantic film, they linger at cafes, dance cheek to cheek, stroll along the Tuileries Garden, steal kisses behind her chaperone’s back and stormily declare their love impossible. After all, Capa thrives on the adrenaline rush of covering war zones, and eventually, Bergman will have to return home. But if their affair becomes public, she may have little to return home to, for a disgraced Bergman is an unemployed Bergman. Greenhalgh sometimes awkwardly shifts between first-person narration, revealing Capa’s thoughts, and third-person narration, speculating on Bergman’s. The magnitude of the liaison, however, doesn’t daunt him; he captures it just as a besotted photographer might capture a starlet’s true gaze.

A cleareyed, unsentimental, yet romantic treatment of a clandestine romance.

Pub Date: March 18th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-250-03496-0
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2014


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