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A celebration of cabaret in Berlin and the birth of cinema, set against the rise and fall of Germany between World War I and World War II
As the clock chimed the turn of the twentieth century, Lilly Nelly Aphrodite took her first breath. The illegitimate, soon orphaned daughter of a cabaret performer, she lands at a Catholic orphanage where she finds refuge and the first in a string of friendships that will change the direction of her life. When fellow orphan Hanne takes Lilly beyond their stone confines, introducing her to the seedy glamour of Berlin’s notorious nightlife, it begins for Lillly a trajectory of reinvention. From urchin to maid, teenage war bride, tingle-tangle bargirl, model, and script typist, Lilly is eventually transformed into one of Germany’s leading film stars and a partner in a remarkable love story that will span decades and continents—and be inextricable from the history unfolding around it.
Gripping, seductive, and masterfully written, The Glimmer Palace is a page-turning story of glitter and splendor, drama and love, friendship and identity. The story of an extraordinary heroine living in an extraordinary time, it is vivid and surprising in its telling, intelligent and ambitious in its scope, sad and beautiful and unforgettable.
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Beatrice Colin was born in London and raised in Scotland. She has worked as a freelance journalist, writing for publications including The Guardian, and as a playwright, writing radio plays for the BBC. She lives in Glasgow.From Booklist:
In this engrossing, romantic historical novel, Lilly Nelly Aphrodite is raised in a Catholic orphanage, and her ensuing journey of self-invention is set against the backdrop of Berlin’s fluctuating fortunes from the early part of the twentieth century to the era of Dachau and Treblinka. Colin depicts World War I, sleazy cabarets, massive unemployment, the Nazi empire, and the even more savage horrors of World War II, all navigated by a strong, determined heroine. Lilly rises from impoverished anonymity to ride the wave of stardom in the new and popular cinema. None less than Joseph Goebbels masterminds the Nazi-produced Queen of Sorrows, whose premier is attended by Hitler himself, but the lovely star soon vanishes in every sense imaginable, driven by her love for the Russian Ilya Yurasov. After a painful separation and an elaborate plan for escape, their love and suffering reflect the lives of millions when the drums of war reverberate, human relationships go up in smoke, and all that is left of love and its past is a single frame from an unseen movie. --Whitney Scott
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