In the Pursuit of Love, Family, and an Enduring Legacy

Fiction - Historical - Personage
364 Pages
Reviewed on 07/08/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Carol Thompson for Readers' Favorite

Mark Kraver’s Janszoon offers a captivating fictional glimpse into Humphrey Bogart’s complex life. Set against the backdrop of Bogart’s career-defining moments, Kraver takes readers on a journey beyond the silver screen. The story takes an intriguing turn when Bogart receives a mysterious note, leading him into conversations with his relatives about their ancestor, the pirate Jan Janszoon van Salee. The discovery ignites a newfound determination in Bogart to break free from the constraints of his studio contract and the pressures of fame. It's a compelling exploration of a man striving to define his legacy beyond Hollywood fame and the expectations that go along with achieving big-screen success.

Mark Kraver’s Janszoon transports readers to a different era, cleverly intertwining the lives of two famous people to create a gripping read. The story is so beautifully written that it’s easy to forget it’s historical fiction. It begins with dialogue, something I’ve never been a fan of, but Kraver makes it work. His narrative skills give readers a fair portrayal of Bogart’s relationships with Hollywood peers like Peter Lorre, Lauren Bacall, Leslie Howard, and his turbulent marriage with the alcoholic Mayo. Kraver writes like someone who knew Bogart well; it’s that convincing. Janszoon is a moving portrayal of a Hollywood legend who, despite his magnetic on-screen presence, yearned for authenticity and fulfillment in his personal life. It’s a story that resonates long after the final page is turned. Janszoon will appeal to anyone who enjoys reading about Hollywood, famous actors, pirates, historical fiction, or simply a good book with riveting twists and turns.