Can’t We Be Friends: A Novel of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe

HarperAudio. Mar. 2024. 11:15 hrs. ISBN 9780063282926. $27.99. F
Knight (The Mayfair Bookshop) and Bryce (The Other Princess) team up to present a meticulously researched portrait of the friendship between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. Though one might assume that these two women had little in common, the authors lovingly describe their many connections and the support they gave each other as each navigated unhealthy relationships, the stress of constantly being in the spotlight, and the unfair treatment of women and people of color. Narrator Karen Chilton animates Fitzgerald’s first-person POV, capturing listeners’ attention with her rich, melodious timbre. Chilton’s performance creates a wonderful sense of intimacy with her nuanced yet always elegant tone. Monroe’s story is presented in the third person, a choice that could have created distance and reserve. Caroline Hewitt’s deft narration ensures the opposite, however, as her narration of Monroe’s side of the relationship rings with empathy and compassion. Additionally, the breathiness that she employs when speaking in Monroe’s voice realistically fleshes out her scenes. The authors’ note at the novel’s end provides information about their sources and research methods.
VERDICT This novel should delight fans of Fitzgerald and Monroe and those seeking biographical fiction about women determined to create their own paths.
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