Sunnyside

Sunnyside

Book - 2009
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In 1916, the lives of three men - a son of the last star of the Wild West, a soldier in a campaign against the Bolsheviks, and Charlie Chaplin - are changed when the silent film star is spotted simultaneously around the world.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780307270689
0307270688
Branch Call Number: FIC GOLD, GLEN
Characteristics: 559 p. ; 25 cm.

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Cdnbookworm Sep 10, 2011

This is a very complex novel with several storylines.
It begins on November 12, 1916 with a day where there were sightings of Charlie Chaplin in many places (a real historical happening). The book follows not only Chaplin himself, but also Leland Wheeler (aka Lee Duncan) a young man who witnesses one of the sightings and risks his life in trying to reach Chaplin. Leland has a dream of being on the big screen, and despite several setbacks, never lets that dream go. We also follow another young man, Hugo Black, who goes on to be an American soldier fighting in Russia, an extension of the first World War that is little acknowledged. There are several other figures we move on at different times: generals, actors, young women with their own agenda, but the three young men, Chaplin, Leland, and Hugo are the primary focus.
With scenes from Hollywood to Germany, France to Russia, the environment varies widely. We see the rise of actors' rights in Hollywood, the terror and tragedy of World War One, the bleakness of the Russian campaign. We see the loss of dreams and the achievement of dreams. We see families and the dynamics that take place within them. There is sadness and joy here, and much to take in.
The author has included historical figures and events along with fictional ones, and it is interesting to see the linkages. We see the beginning of the career of Rin Tin Tin here as well.

l
LizNovak
May 19, 2011

I had high hopes for this book because I loved the author's previous novel, Carter Beats the Devil. I'm happy I stuck with it, but it did not live up to my expectations.

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