Wives in moviedom's upper crust do not come off very well in most novels. They usually can be summarized in a word or two -- bitchy, shallow, acquisitive, etc. They are seldom sympathetic. So it's a happy surprise to come across one presented in depth. Leonora Hornblow (1920-2005) was a Hollywood wife herself. Her husband was Arthur Hornblow Jr., a successful film producer for more than twenty-five years. She published only one other book, The Love Seekers (1958).
Memory and Desire by Leonora Hornblow. Random House (1950), 211 pp.
Gordon Cram, a married New York novelist with a mongoloid son, is on one of his recurrent screenwriting stints in Hollywood. He's fallen out of love with his wife, Louise, and ordinarily would be happy just to escape his marriage for awhile. But on this visit to Los Angeles, something unusual has happened. He has taken up with a beautiful divorcee, Alma Tavis. Formerly a model, she lives more than comfortably on her divorce settlement. Gordon has developed strong feelings for Alma, though they're not as strong as her feelings for him.
This is a straightforward story about love and marriage, though it's not close to a standard romance. The writer is a closed-in sort of guy who is afraid of love. The women live for nothing else. Hornblow makes it pretty clear from the beginning how the affair in Hollywood is going to turn out. So the ending is no surprise. The characters are well drawn, though they lack the intensity of those in the similarly plotted My Face for the World to See. The point of view alternates among the three main characters. As an insider herself, Hornblow refuses to either glamorize or satirize life among moviedom’s rich and successful. Because the characters are subject to various interpretations, the book would probably make an excellent reading group choice.