Their Way.

Book Review for “Strangers in the Night” by Heather Webb.

Summary: In the golden age of Hollywood, two of the brightest stars would define–and defy–an era… She was the small-town southern beauty transformed into a Hollywood love goddess. He was the legendary crooner whose voice transfixed the world. They were Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra. Separately they were irresistible; together they were an explosive combination. Ava’s star is rising just as Frank’s career–and public image as a family man–is taking a hit. Gone are the days of the screaming bobbysoxers and chart-topping hits. Ava, however, finds herself gracing the front page of every tabloid in America. Jealousy and cheating abound, and when the two succumb to their temperaments and their vices, their happiness is threatened at every turn. As the pair ride the roller-coaster of success and failure, passion and anger, they both wonder if the next turn will be the end of their careers, and most devastating of all–the end of all they’ve shared.”

Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Biographical, Fiction; Settings: Era/s: Historical/Contemporary – post WWII; Location/s: Mostly USA – California, New York; Other Categories: Novel, Relationships, Hollywood, Music, Films, Movies, Women, Romance (?).

Strangers in the Night

As my regular readers know, I’ve been following Heather Webb’s career since her debut novel, so obviously I was going to ask for this book. Especially after getting to know her personally last July in Ireland. Of course, you’ll also know that I love biographical fiction, so that’s another box ticked. Mind you, I do prefer stories about more historical women, about which we know little to nothing. That said, the younger generation (or even people just 10 years younger than I) might not remember much about Ava Gardner, and probably couldn’t recognize Frank Sinatra’s voice if one of his songs came on the radio (for some nostalgia show, no doubt). Truth be told, even I’m just a touch too young to have seen Ava’s films while growing up, but I do love a good, old, classic film, and she was in a few! As for Frank, my mother used to play his records all the time. Plus, he was in my mother’s favorite movie musical, Guys & Dolls (I still have a copy on DVD).

So, neither of these people were total strangers to me, and I did know that they were involved at one time. However, I knew nowhere near the level of detail that Webb brought to this book, and boy does she get into the very minutiae of their relationship, both the good and the bad parts. Interestingly enough, I often shy away from stories about the rich and famous, and on the surface, if that was my only criteria, this shouldn’t have interested me at all. Again, that just goes to show how little I knew about these two, and even less about their affair. Neither Frank nor Ava had it easy, nor was it clear sailing along the ways of their careers. In fact, when you read this book you’ll see just how difficult a time they both had, even though they both became rich and famous, eventually.

It was interesting to note that Webb decided to concentrate almost only on this period of time in their mutually shared lives. I mean, there’s so much else that Webb could have mentioned but decided not to include. Yes, Webb does make nods to Sinatra’s ties to the Italian mob, and does include some background about the famous “Rat Pack.” However, this comes late in the novel, and is more of a backdrop for how Sinatra’s career was changing at the time. Now, this isn’t a bad thing at all, and in fact, I think it gave this book much more focus than if she had included much more. To be honest, I’m not sure we needed them to appear at all in order to understand Sinatra, but to ignore them would have been a disservice, and would have left a gaping hole in the story.

The question remains, did Webb do enough to bring Ava and Frank into our hearts enough to really care about them? On the one hand, it certainly made me understand Ava a whole lot better, and while she made some stupid mistakes along the way, she comes off mostly very sympathetic here. On the other hand, despite my knowing a whole lot of good things about Sinatra, he came off here as being weak, while also a bit of a bastard. Well, more than just a bit, to be frank (pun intended). Let’s face it, when bad things happen to good people, we feel their pain. However, when that same thing happens to someone who wasn’t always all that nice, and doesn’t really change much for the better, we might pity them and feel bad, but we also can’t fully feel their pain. So no, this book didn’t make me cry, but it was totally fascinating – a true portrait of enduring love. I’m therefore warmly recommending it, and giving it 4.75 stars out of five!


fc16c-netgalleytinyWilliam Morrow – Harper Collins released “Strangers in the Night” by Heather Webb on March 21, 2023. This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Blackwell‘s, Foyles, The Book Depository UK and Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK and Wordery US, Kobo US (eBooks and audiobooks),, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel via NetGalley.

This novel qualifies for the following reading challenges: New Release Challenge (#10), Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (#8).

Start your own WordPress blog today!

10 thoughts on “Their Way.

  1. I don’t think I care enough about either one of them to read this but I am intrigued that you liked it that much and I do love Guys and Dolls!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do know of Frank Sinatra, and have heard of Ava Gardner but couldn’t tell you the first thing about her!

    Thanks for sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.


  3. Ohhhhh, wow. I’m obsessed with Sinatra (literally hundreds of his recordings, I’ve read every bio I can find of him directly or the Ratpack in general), and I know how instrumental she was in his life and career — both for good and ill. She led him to destroy his marriage and broke his heart, but she taught him to sing torch songs and was responsible for getting him into the movie that reignited his career. Definitely going to look into this one. It may be my ‘reward’ book for reading another 10 titles from my TBR stack.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it would be really difficult to write about people with unlikeable traits! It’s not the author’s fault that readers don’t like or connect with a character! I felt that way about Lady Clementine!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.