The Limits of Limelight by Margaret Porter

Publication Date: September 14, 2021 Gallica Press Paperback & eBook; 412 pages Genre: Historical Fiction

    Pretty Oklahoma teenager Helen Nichols accepts an invitation from her cousin, rising movie actress Ginger Rogers, and her Aunt Lela, to try her luck in motion pictures. Her relatives, convinced that her looks and personality will ensure success, provide her with a new name and help her land a contract with RKO. As Phyllis Fraser, she swiftly discovers that Depression-era Hollywood’s surface glamour and glitter obscure the ceaseless struggle of the hopeful starlet. Lela Rogers, intensely devoted to her daughter and her niece, outwardly accepting of her stage mother label, is nonetheless determined to establish her reputation as screenwriter, stage director, and studio talent scout. For Phyllis, she’s an inspiring model of grit and persistence in an industry run by men. While Ginger soars to the heights of stardom in musicals with Fred Astaire, Phyllis is tempted by a career more fulfilling than the one she was thrust into. Should she continue working in films, or devote herself to the profession she’s dreamed about since childhood? And which choice might lead her to the lasting love that seems so elusive?

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Praise

“An engrossing glimpse into a bygone era and the forces affecting a young woman’s evolution into her own abilities and adulthood . . . vigorous and involving to the end.” ~ Midwest Book Review “A witty and meticulously researched treat.” ~ Kirkus Reviews “A biographical novel as bright as the Golden Era . . . A lovely tribute to the larger-than-life celebrities of early Hollywood . . . a glitz and glamour novel that shines brighter the deeper you go.” ~ Independent Book Review “A time capsule of Hollywood’s Golden Era . . . a captivating novel of Tinsel Town’s perils and pitfalls, trade-offs and triumphs!” ~ Leslie Carroll, author of American Princess “Porter’s elegant, warm and well-researched novel is a joy to read! Perfect for lovers of historical fiction and tales of remarkable women. 5 of 5 Stars.” ~ Literary Redhead, Goodreads

excerpt

“We’ve been studying our fellow passengers,” Ginger explained to her mother. “There’s one lady who wears a monocle and carries a tiny dog and speaks with a veddy, veddy affected accent. We’re convinced she’s pretending to be English.”

She plopped onto the narrow sofa that opened into a bed, clutching pen and paper, and crooked a finger. “Come here. I’ve got a present for you, but not one I can put in a ribbon-wrapped box. You’re getting a new name. To use professionally.”

Helen cast a questioning look at Lela.

“There’s nothing wrong with Helen Nichols,” her aunt declared. “It’s elegant and refi ned, and easy to pronounce. Four syllables, like Ginger Rogers.” With a smile for Helen, she added, “That nickname you gave her when you were a tot turned out to be perfect for show business. Spicy and strong, that’s my girl.”

With a twitch of her auburn head, Ginger opined, “Helen is pretty enough, but not unique or memorable. If she dislikes what I came up with, I’ll keep thinking.”

“What is it?” Helen wanted to know.

“Phyllis. Fraser—with an ‘s.” Ginger handed over the paper. “It has alliteration. You’re an English scholar, you know what that means. I think it suits you. We’ll try it out when I introduce you to people at RKO-Pathé. When you go home, you can be Helen again. Write it out. An actress has to practice her autograph.”

She followed instructions. Dissatisfied with the plain P and F, she tried a more graceful, fl owing version. “How’s this?”

“Perfect!” Ginger placed a beautifully manicured finger on the paper. “Write it again. And again. I want that whole sheet covered—front and back—before we get to Salt Lake City.” With a glance at her mother, she added, “We’re calling her Phyllis from now on, so she’ll get used to it.”

That night when she settled into her bunk, the new name echoed in her mind, keeping time with the steel wheels pounding the steel rails. 

Phyl-lis Fras-er. Phyl-lis Fras-er. Phyl-lis Fras-er.

About the Author

MARGARET PORTER is the author of more than a dozen works of historical fiction, including The Limits of Limelight (September 2021) and the award-winning Beautiful Invention: A Novel of Hedy Lamarr. Her critically acclaimed novels have been translated into several foreign languages. Other writing credits include nonfiction, newspaper and magazine articles, and poetry. She studied British history in the U.K. and afterwards worked professionally in theatre, film and television. Margaret and her husband live in New England with their dog, dividing their time between a book-filled house in a small city and a waterfront cottage located on one of the region’s largest lakes. When not writing, she keeps busy reading, tending her extensive rose gardens, or playing the mandolin. More information is available on her website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 20 Guest Post at Novels Alive Review at Books, Cooks, LooksTuesday, September 21 Review at Reading is My RemedyWednesday, September 22 Review at Rachelle Loves Books Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and TeaThursday, September 23 Review at Michelle the PA Loves to ReadFriday, September 24 Review at View from the BirdhouseSaturday, September 25 Review at A Darn Good ReadMonday, September 27 Review at Rajiv’s Reviews Review at Booking With JanelleTuesday, September 28 Review at With A Book In Our HandsWednesday, September 29 Guest Post at Jorie Loves A StoryThursday, September 30 Interview + Excerpt at Passages to the PastFriday, October 1 Feature at Bibliostatic Review at Niki Loves to ReadMonday, October 4 Review at Novels Alive Review at Jorie Loves A StoryTuesday, October 5 Review at Little But Fierce Book DiaryWednesday, October 6 Review at Passages to the Past Review at The Enchanted Shelf

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away some fabulous prizes! Grand Prize Winner: Choice of an autographed paperback or an ebook or an audiobook, plus an acrylic 16-oz sippy “go” cup with straw. 2nd and 3rd Prize Winners: Choice of an autographed paperback or an ebook or an audiobook. Runners-up (5): Reproduction vintage Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire postcard, plus author-autographed bookplate. The giveaway is open internationally and ends on October 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter. The Limits of Limelight

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