cover image Beautiful Invention: A Novel of Hedy Lamarr

Beautiful Invention: A Novel of Hedy Lamarr

Margaret Porter. Gallica, $14.95 trade paper (378p) ISBN 978-0-9907420-3-6

Hedy Lamarr is feted as much for her intellect as for her beauty in this captivating novel set in the 1930s. As a young Austrian actress, Hedy (born Hedwig Kiesler) makes a scandalous, avant-garde film in 1933 called Ecstasy that is star-making, but shadows her personally and professionally. Soon after, she marries a jealous, domineering supplier of military weapons to dictators, including Hitler. After several attempts to leave her marriage for a movie career in the United States, Hedy finally obtains an MGM contract from Louis Mayer. Mayer molds Hedy into a glamorous movie icon, but she becomes frustrated with roles that do not show her dramatic range, and with her image as aloof. Hedy collected six husbands and many lovers, and raised three children, yet the narrative’s focus on her patented invention of a radio-controlled torpedo provides a window into a complex, highly intelligent woman. The pacing of the story is spot-on: Hedy’s personal and career trajectories are excellently balanced by the secondary characters, as well as a thread about her mother being trapped in Austria and, later, London as it was being bombed. Porter’s insightful account of a gifted yet often misunderstood inventor and movie star makes for a winning novel.[em] (BookLife) [/em]