In Theda Bara's Tent

Diana Altman. Tapley Cove Press, $15 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-615-34327-3
Harry Sirkus, the protagonist of Altman's atmospheric historical, is a boy orphaned at a young age and sent to live in a home for destitute children. Once Harry becomes a teenager and realizes the home can no longer support him, he strikes out to find his fortune. Along the way he meets young would-be mogul Louis B. Mayer and begins to learn the film business. He next works for William Fox, founder of Fox Film Corporation, and then—from the 1910s to the 1930s—proceeds to meet a host of influential performers and famous film industry figures, all the while casting a critical eye on issues like immigration, anti-Semitism, and opportunity in early 20th-century America. Through Harry, Altman frames a vibrant story about early Hollywood and a tumultuous time in American history. Harry, meanwhile, lovable if a little bland, mainly serves to bring readers closer to larger-than-life figures like Fox and Mayer. Readers with an even passing interest in the history of Hollywood will be enthralled.
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011
Release date: 10/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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