Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Book Review: A Storm of Infinite Beauty

By Allyson Bales

Scarlett Fontaine is a true Hollywood legend—a singer, actress, and beloved fashion icon. But Scarlett dies tragically at just thirty-six years old, leaving behind no children. Or so the story goes…

Gwen Hollingsworth is the curator at a museum dedicated to Scarlett’s life. She’s also sole heir to Scarlett’s fortune as a descendant of the star. But all is not well in Gwen’s world. She’s dealing with a messy marital separation and is struggling to move forward. So when Peter Miller, a biographer and photojournalist, comes to the museum with shocking claims about Scarlett—a life of exile in Alaska, a baby born in secret—Gwen’s whole world is turned upside down. Again.

Determined to uncover the truth, Gwen and Peter set out for Alaska together but soon find themselves on a path toward something far deeper and more meaningful than either of them ever expected.

A Storm of Infinite Beauty takes readers on a breathtaking journey from a lush vineyard in Nova Scotia to a rustic lodge in Alaska where old family secrets are revealed and the quest for true happiness begins. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Well I just finished going down a rabbit hole about the earthquake in Valdez Alaska on March 27th, 1964 and WOW.  Julianne MacLean opens this story with an account of that day that completely grips you and pulls you into the story right away.  I also recently returned from a two week road trip with my wife where we traveled through Nova Scotia and found myself visualizing a lot of the places we had seen while reading this beautiful story.

A Storm of Infinite Beauty introduces us to Gwen, a thoughtful woman suffering through some of her own personal tragedy, who runs the Scarlett Fontaine Museum.  The Museum is dedicated to Gwen’s distant relative, Scarlett, who passed away when she was only thirty-six.  Peter Miller, a notorious Hollywood paparazzi, is interested in writing a story about Scarlett’s life.  Together Gwen and Peter take a journey to Alaska to find out what happened to Scarlett.  

Immediately I was immersed in this story.  MacLean’s writing transforms you right onto the page as if you are there with the characters.  The descriptions of Alaska are so enthralling and have now made Alaska one of my top places to visit. I also enjoyed the way the story was structured and was captivated by it being told in three parts with dual timelines. 

I found this to be a combination of women’s fiction and mystery.  Gwen is a character I immediately connected with and was rooting for.  She has been through some difficult things and I love that she uses music to cope and feel understood.  I don’t know about you but music that makes me feel seen and understood is so helpful to me.  I love that she listens to Scarlett’s music as a way to process.  To follow along on Gwen’s journey was very powerful and will resonate with so many readers.  Peter also really grew on me.  What he shared about his experience with being a paparazzi was very interesting.  In a time where paparazzi have such a reputation it was interesting to get a more human view of their work. 

This is my first read by Juilanne MacLean and I did not know what an amazing backlist she has!  She is definitely going to be an author I read more from and really recommend her stories if you love women's fiction with captivating and descriptive story telling!  

Thanks to BookSparks for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Julianne MacLean:

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