cover image The Blonde

The Blonde

Anna Godbersen. Perseus/Weinstein, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-1-60286-222-7

Children’s author Godbersen (The Luxe) makes her adult debut with an engaging what-if thriller and love story. In New York City in March 1959, a Soviet intelligence agent, who happens to have been responsible for boosting Marilyn Monroe’s movie career in 1947, recruits the megastar to gather information on up-and-coming politician John Kennedy. In exchange, the Russian agent promises to reunite Monroe with her long-lost father. Monroe travels to Chicago, where she easily gains the future president’s attention at a hotel restaurant. They begin an affair that continues into the White House. The unlikely plot developments leading up to J.F.K.’s assassination in Dallas do nothing to diminish the author’s memorable warts-and-all portrayal of Monroe, alone and unhappy despite her fame and her celebrity husbands. The prose captures the atmosphere surrounding Hollywood at the time perfectly (e.g., some hangers-on at a party are “not quite actresses and not entirely prostitutes”). Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, WME. (May)