ARC Review: The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin


TheGirlsInThePictureCoverOfficial Synopsis from Goodreads: An intimate portrait of the close friendship and powerful creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female superstars: Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. An enchanting new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife.

Hollywood, 1914. Frances Marion, a young writer desperate for a break, meets “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, already making a name for herself both on and off the screen with her golden curls and lively spirit. Together, these two women will take the movie business by storm.

Mary Pickford becomes known as the “Queen of the Movies”—the first actor to have her name on a movie marquee, and the first to become a truly international celebrity. Mary and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, were America’s first Royal Couple, living in a home more famous that Buckingham Palace. Mary won the first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Talkie and was the first to put her hand and footprints in Grauman’s theater sidewalk. Her annual salary in 1919 was $625,000—at a time when women’s salaries peaked at $10 a week. Frances Marion is widely considered one of the most important female screenwriters of the 20th century, and was the first writer to win multiple Academy Awards. The close personal friendship between the two stars was closely linked to their professional collaboration and success.

This is a novel about power: the power of women during the exhilarating early years of Hollywood, and the power of forgiveness. It’s also about the imbalance of power, then and now, and the sacrifices and compromises women must make in order to succeed. And at its heart, it’s a novel about the power of female friendship.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 1914-1932 Hollywood

***I received an eARC copy of The Girls in the Picture from the publisher, Delacorte Press, via NetGalley***

*** this post contains affiliate links ***

Review: Glamorous and dazzling! I really loved The Girls in the Picture. Telling the true story of Mary Pickford, the first movie star, and Frances Marion, a scenarist in early Hollywood, The Girls in the Picture sucked me in from the first page. Set in early Hollywood, Mary Pickford is a silent film star, when she meets Frances Marion, a woman determined to make it in the pictures. They become fast friends, and I loved reading about their friendship. It was very refreshing to read a book where the focus was on female friendships, and not on their love lives.

There is a bit of romance here, as Mary falls hard for Douglas Fairbanks, and Frances finds love as well, but there is so much more to these ladies than the men in their lives. The battle against gender stereotypes falls into play in this book, as Mary is a successful businesswoman, as well as one of the very first Hollywood celebrities and tries to fight the conventions of the time. Frances also directs movies and stands up to the men running Hollywood.

I found the historical tidbits about movies and Hollywood absolutely fascinating. The Girls in the Picture was a book that I kept thinking about when I wasn’t reading it, and was one that I tried to read any moment that I could. I loved reading about Mary’s acting techniques and tricks, and her determination to succeed. I loved reading about Frances’s struggles to break into the business and was fascinated about how Hollywood helped fund the American WWI effort and the rise of Hollywood’s popularity and the transition from silent films to talkies. If you are interested in movie history or celebrity history at all, you need to read this book! It was unlike anything else I’ve read, and I absolutely loved it. You’ll root for Mary and Frances to be successful in the world of men, and while it feels a tad heavy-handed at times, I was fascinated and drawn into the glamorous world of Hollywood.

Bottom Line: A fabulous, fascinating account of Old Hollywood! I loved it!


LINKS ***the Amazon link is an affiliate link which means I receive a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase***
Author’s Website
Link to my review of The Aviator’s Wife, another book by Melanie Benjamin


Does this sound like great historical fiction? Are you interested in books about Old Hollywood?


19 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin

  1. Oooh! I can hardly wait to read this! Thanks for the great review as I would not have heard of it otherwise. PS I love the cover art! While in a bookstore that might have made me pick it up, I doubt I would have bought it without your enthusiastic review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I think you will really love this book. There’s a lot of fun stuff in it, and I loved reading about Old Hollywood and how silent films were made. Truly fascinating !


  2. You mentioned the main characters fighting against the men in the film industry. Does it feel like this book is a good one to read right now given the changing climate around Hollywood and how men are being more closely watched? I keep hearing about film projects with more women in leadership roles and get excited!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the book is very timely. While this title doesn’t delve into too much of the sexual harassment that women received (it does a little), it definitely seems like a timely read. I’ve actually had this ARC from NetGalley since last June, but I always wait to read my ARCs til close to the publication date (the book just came out this past Tuesday), and so it was interesting to read this story (which was written before everything with Harvey Weinstein and others came out) after so many women have come forward in the industry. I was actually very surprised that Mary Pickford and Frances Marion were such forces in the industry (Mary Pickford especially), and then to see the state of the industry now. It was absolutely fascinating, and this is definitely a book that I’ll be re-reading at some point! I even went and bought the hardcover when it released on Tuesday… I enjoyed this so much!


        1. Yeah. Nothing is ever free! We are expected to spend lots of time reading the book and then writing a review on it. The hardest are those books that I feel “meh” about. Those reviews are the hardest to write!


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