Friday, September 24, 2021

Book Review and Giveaway - The Limits of Limelight by Margaret Porter

My Review

The Limits of Limelight is a story of old time Hollywood. Pretty young Oklahoma teenager Helen Nichols visits her aunt and her cousin, Ginger Rogers, in Hollywood. She soon finds herself renamed Phyllis Fraser and pursuing a movie career in the 1930's under her Aunt Lela's watchful eye. As she deliberates between an acting or writing career, she has several short-lived romances, and meets a number of famous Hollywood friends.

I wanted to read this novel because I love classic Hollywood and the Ginger Rogers mention in the book blurb was intriguing. I love the old game show What's My Line? and have always especially enjoyed Bennett Cerf on that show. I also sell vintage children's books, and love finding, researching, and selling old Random House editions including Dr. Seuss books. I had no idea when I picked this book up that Phyllis Fraser was the wife of Bennett Cerf - and was part of the publication of the early Random House I Can Read books.

I absolutely loved this book and am already recommending it to friends who love old movies.  It gives a rare behind the scenes glimpse of Hollywood in the 1930's.  I loved, thanks to the book, visiting the Garden of Allah where Ginger Rogers, her mother, and Phyllis lived. This famous apartment building had a fountain full of goldfish and famous (and soon-to-be-famous) Hollywood names lounging around the swimming pool. Phyllis also becomes friends with the ill-fated Peg Entwhistle, who committed suicide by jumping off the Hollywood sign.  Her other famous friends include Anne Shirley, John Payne, Betty Furness, and a young Katherine Hepburn.

The novel spans from 1931 - 1947. The chapters were relatively short but pithy and full of anecdotes and vividly drawn scenes that moved the storyline along.  The author does an exceptional job at capturing another time and place - and what a time and place it was!

I highly recommend The Limits of Limelight for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, and especially for anyone interested in old movies and Hollywood in the 1930's.

Book Synopsis

Pretty Oklahoma teenager Helen Nichols accepts an invitation from her cousin, rising movie actress Ginger Rogers, and her Aunt Lela, to try her luck in motion pictures. Her relatives, convinced that her looks and personality will ensure success, provide her with a new name and help her land a contract with RKO.  As Phyllis Fraser, she swiftly discovers that Depression-era Hollywood’s surface glamour and glitter obscure the ceaseless struggle of the hopeful starlet.

Lela Rogers, intensely devoted to her daughter and her niece, outwardly accepting of her stage mother label, is nonetheless determined to establish her reputation as screenwriter, stage director, and studio talent scout. For Phyllis, she’s an inspiring model of grit and persistence in an industry run by men.

While Ginger soars to the heights of stardom in musicals with Fred Astaire, Phyllis is tempted by a career more fulfilling than the one she was thrust into. Should she continue working in films, or devote herself to the profession she’s dreamed about since childhood? And which choice might lead her to the lasting love that seems so elusive?

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Author Bio

MARGARET PORTER is the author of more than a dozen works of historical fiction, including The Limits of Limelight (September 2021) and the award-winning Beautiful Invention: A Novel of Hedy Lamarr. Her critically acclaimed novels have been translated into several foreign languages. Other writing credits include nonfiction, newspaper and magazine articles, and poetry. She studied British history in the U.K. and afterwards worked professionally in theatre, film and television. Margaret and her husband live in New England with their dog, dividing their time between a book-filled house in a small city and a waterfront cottage located on one of the region’s largest lakes. When not writing, she keeps busy reading, tending her extensive rose gardens, or playing the mandolin.

More information is available on her website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away some fabulous prizes!

Grand Prize Winner:

Choice of an autographed paperback or an ebook or an audiobook, plus an acrylic 16-oz sippy “go” cup with straw.

2nd and 3rd Prize Winners:

Choice of an autographed paperback or an ebook or an audiobook.

Runners-up (5):

Reproduction vintage Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire postcard, plus author-autographed bookplate.

The giveaway is open internationally and ends on October 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Limits of Limelight


Book Review - A Midnight Dance by Joanna Davidson Politano

My Review

In 1830's London, Ella Blythe longs to be a ballerina. Her quest for a career in ballet brings her closer to her mother's mysterious history, questions about her father, and a love story of her own.

I wanted to read A Midnight Dance because I absolutely loved The Love Note and Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano.  I enjoy historical fiction and also have a lifelong interest in ballet, so this novel was particularly appealing.

The author does an amazing job at setting the scene in another time. As a reader, I vividly pictured the theater and the world Ella traveled through. The novel had a dark, atmospheric tone for me, with the past fire and the haunted ambience of the theater backstage (especially at night).

Ella is an interesting protagonist - she is striving for a career at a time when there were few careers for women, but she is also trying to answer the mysteries of her family background and to find romance and happiness in her own life. She finds a way to connect with her faith through dance.

A Midnight Dance has many layers - and many twists and turns too. I recommend it for fans of historical fiction, Christian fiction, and for anyone who has a strong interest in dance.  

Book Synopsis

The best moments in dance are the unscripted ones

At their core, all theater romances are tragedies. Ella Blythe knows this. Still, she cannot help but hope her own story may turn out different than most--and certainly different than the tragic story of the Ghost of Craven Street Theater.

After a chance encounter with one of the ballet company's handsome dancers late one night, Ella is swept off her elegantly pointed toes. The dance they share and the promise he makes to her feel like a new beginning. Yet as she faces mounting challenges in the ever-shrinking ballet company, Ella cannot deny the uncanny feeling that her life is mirroring that of the ghostly ballerina.

Is she dancing ever closer to the edge of her own disastrous end? Or will the secrets that are about to come to light offer release from the unyielding grip of the past?

Author Bio

Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears, A Rumored Fortune, Finding Lady Enderly, and The Love Note. She loves tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone's story. She lives with her husband and their children in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan. You can find her at