The Blue Butterfly

A Novel of Marion Davies

Fiction - Historical - Personage
352 Pages
Reviewed on 03/24/2022
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Author Biography

Leslie Johansen Nack’s debut, Fourteen, A Daughter’s Memoir of Adventure, Sailing and Survival received five indie awards, including the 2016 Finalist in Memoir at the Next Generation Indie Book Award. Before she started writing, she raised two children, ran a mechanical engineering business with her husband, took care of her aging mother, and dreamed of retirement when she could write full-time. She did everything late in life, including getting her degree in English Literature from UCLA at age thirty-one. Please visit her website and sign up to receive an email to find out what she’s been up to.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Blue Butterfly is a work of fiction in the historical fiction and interpersonal drama subgenres. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Leslie Johansen Nack. In a fictionalized account of a real-world relationship, the book follows Marion Davies as she falls in love with William Randolph Hearst and becomes his mistress. Over the years a secret daughter is born, a fling with Charlie Chaplin takes place, and the Great Depression threatens to crush Marion and Hearst’s lifestyle. But this threat pales when the movie Citizen Kane is made, and the parallels between Kane and Hearst incite rage.

Following the lives of real-world people to spin an engaging story is a tricky business; balancing the facts of the case with the dramatic ups and downs a story needs that real life may not provide. Fortunately, author Leslie Johansen Nack has picked the perfect subject matter in Marion Davies whose life on and off the silver screen was filled with glamour and high drama as she gave birth to a secret love child and struggled to survive the Great Depression. Marion is an engaging protagonist who never loses her relatability, no matter how deep she gets into the world of showbusiness, due to her characterization being rooted in her love for Hearst and her simple desire to succeed in a difficult industry. The Blue Butterfly’s depiction of history particularly comes alive when discussing the real hurt and fury felt by Marion and Hearst upon learning that Citizen Kane’s unflattering depictions were based in part upon them. An implication that could cause real harm to Marion’s achievements is handled with an incredible gravity that makes their attempts to slow or halt the release of the movie feel painfully futile.