Frank McLynn

A Wicked, Wicked Life

Ava Gardner

By

Bloomsbury 533pp £20 order from our bookshop

Ava Gardner, surely one of the best known of all film stars, exemplified the classic rags-to-riches fable. The seventh child of a North Carolina sharecropping tobacco farmer, she was what the unkind describe as poor white trailer trash, with accent and ambitions to match. The height of her aspirations was to be a secretary in New York, but she was ‘discovered’ from a chance snapshot in a photographer’s window and whisked away to Hollywood for the big star build-up, purely on the basis of her looks. And here, straight away, Lee Server’s workmanlike  biography solves one problem that has always puzzled me. While everyone agrees that Ava Gardner was no great shakes as an actress, she was consistently described as a woman of stunning beauty – yet this did not seem to me to correspond with the image I saw on the screen. According to Server, she was one of those rare movie stars who are far more stunning in the flesh than on celluloid; usually it works the other way round, with fairly ordinary-looking men and women being transformed by the magical alchemy of a camera that likes them.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,