Delayed Rays of A Star (ARC)
Author: Amanda Lee Koe
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: July 9th, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Characters: Anna May Wong, Marlene, Leni, Bebe, …
When a photographer captures Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong and Leni Riefenstahl in one frame at a party in Berlin in 1928, no one realizes the extent to which their lives will reflect the tumultuous decades that follow. Marlene crosses the Atlantic to find fame in Hollywood, the town that eats out of the palm of her hand till her wrinkles begin to show. After establishing her position as a filmmaker, Leni watches her fame turn to notoriety following the defeat of Nazi Germany. Nine and a half times out of ten films, the side characters played by Anna May must die so the white male lead can be returned to his white paramour on the screen. In the murky world these women navigate, their choices will be held up to the test of time. And the real question is, how much has anything changed?
Firstly, I gotta say that this book took me months to finish it. Was it not good, not really. But it is one of those books that the writing style I found heavier and heavier as I went through. But I am glad that I actually finished it because this book is full with empowering messages and events that one couldn’t simply miss.
“Men were. Women behaved. Men did things, women watched.”
-Amanda Lee Koe
This book, as everyone knows through the synopsis, is about the 3 iconic actresses: Marlene, Anna May Wong and Leni. This book tells these ladies’s stories by recalling their youth and how they started in the industry until they turned old. Their struggles as artists or actresses were told in different perspectives and from different angles. They were all facing issues in becoming somebody well known in the industry. Anna May Wong with being Chinese yet being declined for main Chinese roles and couldn’t seem to achieve her dream in becoming main character. Marlene with her breakthrough and how she paved her success and fame through all sorts of way and when she turned old, we could see how she lived with hope that she was still famous. Lastly, Leni with her successes,including making films yet she was thrown with so much hatred and people disliked her for so many reasons.
“What’s so great about being a mother? Silly girl, her mother said. It’s not about greatness. It’s the natural way of things.”
– Amanda Lee Koe
With that being said, this book has clearly brought the theme feminism into the plate. It could be seen in the entire book and how women are always being considered as subordinates. However, these 3 women made some differences with their lives. They proved that even so, ladies could be greater, women could be someone big and well known despite the comments made on them. This I found very inspiring and important, one of the reason I kept reading.
This book also deals with being Asian and/or immigrants. Prejudice that was being thrown at immigrants and also what tiny chances they got in surviving in other countries. Plus, political issues were also being addressed a lot in this book. It is one of those things that I am quite ignorant about and honestly, not interested in. I guess this is also one of the reason this book was getting slow for me.
“Parties changes hands, Schmitz said, country is forever.”
-Amanda Lee Koe
Apart from that, sexuality is another topic that was being discussed in this book. Though it is not being touched most of the time, it is there and it is also one of the new and unexpectedly open thing to be at that time. Marlene, was again, being the very bold character and how she brought herself in being a bisexual at that era is again making her a phenomenal and very interesting character.
Organisation of the chapters and how the perspectives and the actresses’ stories are being separated through the chapter numbering is also another aspect that I strongly liked. You might say that this is a very small aspect in a book, but it’s not. It could be seen how much thought the author and the editors put into this book that they even considered all these technical stuffs while going through the process of coming out with this book.
“But what would life be without problems?”
-Amanda Lee Koe
The plots and sub plots are also given so much thoughts. Every sub characters were related to the main characters through certain events and reasons. For that, I think the author did an amazing job at tying up all the incidents and characters together.
Overall, it’s a great read. It’s just that I took longer to finish it because I’m not used to the writing style. Other than that, I think everyone should at least give Delayed Rays of A Star a try for the stories and the empowering messages it delivers.
Last but not least, thank you Pansing for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is now available in all good bookstores, so make sure to check it out!