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Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?: A Novel av…

Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?: A Novel (utgåvan 2023)

av Crystal Smith Paul (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
3551173,710 (3.36)5
Historical fiction narrated in three voices/time periods.
Secret is unraveled/guessable pretty early.
I listened to the audiobook and I enjoyed the Hazel and Kitty voices/chapters.
The present day Elise St. John chapters, I felt, seemed a bit emotionless?
The novel ended too abruptly for my liking.
I think there were even MORE secrets hinted at, which would have made up some interesting side chapters. ( )
  deslivres5 | Dec 12, 2023 |
Visar 11 av 11
"There are two types of people in this world, Mary: people with time to sit under the trees, looking up at the sky and pondering life... and those who end up hanging from those same trees, looking down on the life they might have had, had they been born different. You were born different, by the grace of God, so you get to choose." (p. 52)

I was very hopeful for this book. Although not completely original, the description of the book had all the ingredients for a novel that would tackle issues of race, fame, birthright, and family... just to name a few. Would it answer questions such as "At what price Hollywood?" and "What is racial identity? What does it mean to be Black/White?"

I say this because this debut novel promised to mix elements of "Passing" by Nella Larsen, "The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett, and "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid as well as "A Star is Born" from the fresh voice of Crystal Smith Paul.
Unfortunately, poor editing, problems with continuity, and flat characters made it a disappointing BOTM selection.
I will give some examples.
1. Confusing/ poorly written lines:
"Elise never went to sleep, and she wasn't the only one." (p. 1.) That evening? Habitually?

"Nathan had been obsessed with his wife and never embraced her professional life outside of acting," (p. 90) What does that mean? It is never explained.

"Some said she stared, but if you knew her, you understood her interest was a compliment- most people she just looked right through." (p. 352) Huh?

Taking water from the filtered tap... (OK, we know they are rich. Of course, the water is filtered.)

"Elise was, however, the most unusual-looking of the trio, with eyes that changed from dark blue with her moods. They'd been steel gray for weeks now, unenthused by life." (p. 10) Was Elise unenthused, or were her eyes unenthused?

2. Continuity- many instances but I do not want to spoil the story, so I will provide minor examples:
On one page the character is wearing a dress with a lace collar, but on the next, she is adjusting her suit jacket. I know this seems silly to point out, but it occurs over and over and is distracting.
As well as:
"Elise never went to sleep, and she wasn't the only one."
"Sara slept so much Elise had usually felt compelled to check on her..." Wait..what?

3. Grammar mistakes:
"My momma raised Laurie and I up in the same way..." (p. 211)
"They met every week to trade information, organize and fellowship." (p. 235)
"How does her gifting her estate to my sisters and I seem like coercion?" (p. 372) This one had two errors! Yikes!!

4. Unrealistic or confusing story beats... I can't include examples unless I include spoilers... but I did make a note of them! (For instance the whole concept of the Blair House was hard to buy into., and all the machinations were hard to follow) This kept me looking back through the book to clarify the facts/timeline in the story.

One, thing, in particular, is confusing... Nathan and Kitty work on "The Misfits", a movie by Telescope Pictures, a fictional studio. Perhaps the author and editors did not know that this is the name of a real movie, released in 1961, written by Arthur Miller, and directed by John Huston, starring both Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable (the last films for both stars). I kept thinking that this would develop into a relationship between Kitty Karr and Marilyn Monroe or Clark Gable.

5. Flat characters... Elise and Kitty are somewhat developed, but the rest of the characters are one-dimensional and forgettable.

Elise starts out rather shallow and does grow (a bit) but is unlikable until the end:

"with ten years of acting and five hundred million dollars in box office sales under her belt, Elis's life hadn't belonged to her in years. Sometimes the emotional restraint it took to conceal her unhappiness was just a hair away from masochism." (p. 4)

"good luck finding an available seamstress to work on an eight-thousand-dollar gown hours before the Oscars. Refusing to panic, though she was starting to sweat... she stepped out of the dress and fetched the joint from the sill of the rose window. To the surprise of the room, after lighting it she offered it to no one, not even her sisters." (p. 398)

The author game more insight into Kitty's feelings and motivations., but not always:

"Kitty had uninstalled all the overhead lights because they reminded her of being onstage. The result was a tomblike environment Kitty found comforting." (p. 89) Why? it is never explained.

6. Too much vomit.Once is unnecessary, more than once is a big turn off for me. Find another way to show that a character is upset. Need I say more?

7. It became extremely political in places, which is ok, but readers should be aware before they choose to read it. The ending seemed far-fetched, but hey, it's fiction, and in fiction, we are allowed happy endings.
"The whole thing could come crashing down...But Elise had decided weeks ago to let the chips fall where they may- to wing it. She figured the details would work themselves out. That was the American way. "(p. 401) ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
I quite enjoyed this book. Lightly coloured black women passing as white was a new topic for me. The present day storyline was less interesting but loved the past storyline in 1950s Hollywood. I also loved what the organization in the past was doing to support the black community - they were an incredibly strong and ingenious group. The book was an easy read and it moved quickly eventhough some of it was predictable. Recommended for an entertaining read. ( )
  tinkerbellkk | Mar 16, 2024 |
Don’t waste your time. By the end of the book I didn’t care about any of the characters. I rarely give a book one star. ( )
  csobolak | Mar 12, 2024 |
For starters, the comparisons to "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" (which I also loved) are extremely valid. This is another "legendary Hollywood starlet of the 1960s with a mysterious past to be revealed after her passing" novel, and again, similarly to "Evelyn Hugo", has a large emphasis on social issues of the past and present. I did enjoy that the storyline was clearly planned out - there were small "Easter eggs" with mentioning a character's name in earlier chapters, only to realize their significance to the story later. But I also think it would have benefitted more from editing portions of the later chapters as it felt like it ended extremely abruptly. ( )
  SStewart89 | Feb 11, 2024 |
Historical fiction narrated in three voices/time periods.
Secret is unraveled/guessable pretty early.
I listened to the audiobook and I enjoyed the Hazel and Kitty voices/chapters.
The present day Elise St. John chapters, I felt, seemed a bit emotionless?
The novel ended too abruptly for my liking.
I think there were even MORE secrets hinted at, which would have made up some interesting side chapters. ( )
  deslivres5 | Dec 12, 2023 |
There's much in this book, devastating secrets, Hollywood, historical relevance, racial inequities, glamour, and difficult choices and even love! The back & forth in time is always somewhat clumsy and I liked the hisrical part better than the present. It was one that I kept gpoing back to and would reccomend it! ( )
  EllenH | Sep 25, 2023 |
Did you hear about Kitty Karr? By Chrystal Smith Paul is a 2023 Henry Holt & Co. Publication.

This is a deeply absorbing novel I found hard to put down. I loved finding a historical fiction novel that was surrounded by old Hollywood, though it does utilize the dreaded dual timeline, which I’ve mostly run out of patience with. That said, the focus is on the historical segments mostly, so it worked out alright in the end.

The story is centered around the life of glamorous actress, Kitty Karr, and her meteoric rise to fame in the age of Old Hollywood. But Kitty has a secret, as do several other women in her orbit, who form a network that funds civil rights causes. It’s a taut, suspenseful risk all the way around and kept me glued to the pages.

The present day segments were not as strong, and some of the content wasn't really necessary to the story, in my opinion.

Naturally, there are important themes addressed in the novel, but they play out organically in the context of some pretty awesome story telling. I do think this will be a great book club choice. I’m still mulling over some of the aspects of this book and have a feeling it will stay with me for long time.

4+ stars ( )
  gpangel | Aug 16, 2023 |
Passing as white is a subject that I really didn't know much about. Kitty's mother insisted that she leave home and go to Hollywood and drop all ties to her home. The narrators did an excellent job with this book. ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Aug 9, 2023 |
Very good read about a subject not covered in anything I've read before, passing as white, since the dawn of slavery. The characters were very well done and the time lines shift easily enough. The end got a little muddled for me but all and all a good book. ( )
  mchwest | Jul 18, 2023 |
Mary is conceived when her mother, Hazel, a house maid, is violated by the white tobacco heir of the house. She is born light-skinned and can pass as white. Her mother sends her to live with her friend, Lillian, in CA. There, Lillian, now Emma Karr, renames Mary to Kitty and tells her to live as white. Kitty gets a job working in the film industry where she meets Nathan Tate. In doing so, Mary has to renounce her family and keep her distance.
The story details her life as an actress and writer, her work trying to help black causes, and investigations into her finances. As Kitty's fame rises, so does her wealth. When she dies, she leaves her estate to a wealthy black family, the St. Johns, which leads to questions about their heritage.
A good novel about passing as white and the guilt and trauma and responsibility felt. ( )
  rmarcin | Jun 6, 2023 |
Kitty has been sent away by her mother to Hollywood. She wants more for Kitty than what is available at home. See, Kitty has a white father and a black mother. But, Kitty has a white skin tone. Her mother knows she can have the life of her dreams away from the south where everyone knows her background.

This is more of a 3.5 star read. I, of course, rounded up! It is a bit long and it tends to drag in the middle. It could have been cut by about 100 pages probably. That being said, I did enjoy Kitty. She is truly a tough woman in a terrible time.

I learned a great deal in this book. I knew quite a bit. But, I didn’t know the lengths many people went to hide what they really are. So, the secrets and the manipulation really add to the intensity of this story.

The narrators are excellent. This is probably why enjoyed this book more than I would have if I had physically read it. There are three narrators and each one created amazing voices!

Need a story with so many secrets…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today.

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review. ( )
  fredreeca | May 17, 2023 |
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