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Brooke's Pick: Strangers in the Night by Heather Webb

Transporting readers to the golden age of Hollywood, this captivating novel follows Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra as they ride a rollercoaster of success and failure, passion and anger, wondering if the next turn will be the end of their careers--and the end of all they've shared.

Despite being a big classic film and TV fan, I did not know that legendary crooner Frank Sinatra and screen siren Ava Gardner were involved in a relationship, much less married, before reading Heather Webb's intimate biographical fiction novel Strangers in the Night, which reimagines the pair's tumultuous love affair. I was hooked on this brilliant book from the very first paragraph and quickly found myself completely invested in Frank and Ava's relationship.

Strangers in the Night is biographical fiction done right. Webb brings Frank and Ava vividly to life and creates a real sense of who they were as people. Despite knowing very little about Frank Sinatra beyond his incredible singing talent and Ava Gardner for being a big name during the Golden Age of Hollywood, I felt like I knew the pair quite intimately by the time I finished this novel.

Webb goes into Frank and Ava's personal and professional lives, highlighting their struggles as they both attempted to make it big in Hollywood, and detailing their mercurial relationship, which constantly ran hot and cold. Between Frank's volatile temper and both he and Ava's penchant for drowning their sorrows in liquor, it is no surprise that this relationship was built on shaky ground. Webb captures the pair's fiery passion for each other, while also demonstrating how the slightest upset could send their whole house of cards crashing down.

Entirely riveting with a candid, confessional vibe, Strangers in the Night is a stand-out biographical fiction novel for 2023. Available in audiobook format through the cloudLibrary app, it comes highly recommended. Chris Andrew Ciulla is fantastic in the role of Frank, and had me believing that I was actually listening to the man himself. What an experience listening to this book was - highly recommended!

- Brooke, Public Relations Librarian


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