When Clara Bishop, a struggling screenwriter-turned-tabloid journalist in Hollywood, is jilted by her philandering husband, she follows him to London, determined to win him back. Armed with only a glamorous wardrobe of vintage clothing inherited from her grandmother, a former film noir actress, Clara discovers that the clothes really do make the woman. Dressed to kill, she adopts a new femme fatale persona: confident, sexy and set on revenge. But on the road to retaliation, Clara discovers an unfinished film script that sheds light on her grandmother’s mysterious death years before. Then it happens: somehow, magically, her whole life is transported back in time, into a living, breathing film noir that reveals to Clara the potential to write her own ending.
I had already seen the cover of Kim Izzo’s latest novel ‘My Life in Black and White’ appearing on my Twitter timeline several times, but hadn’t really felt the instant desire to check out the novel. Fortunately, I ended up receiving a copy of the novel via @WishListBooks (thanks so much!), and after reading the blurb on the back of the novel I was really curious to read it. ‘My Life in Black and White’ appeared to be slightly different from anything I’ve read before, and I figured it would either turn out to be a pleasant surprise or a novel that wasn’t for me.
‘My Life in Black and White’ tells the story of Clara Bishop, a tabloid journalist from Hollywood who originally had a dream of becoming a famous screenwriter. Unexpectedly, Clara discovers her husband Dean is having an affair with a young, blonde waitress named Amber and their marriage is over. She can’t let it go and follows him to London in order to win him back, with only an old trunk filled with her grandmother’s vintage dresses. As Clara starts wearing these glamorous clothes, she slowly starts to change into a true femme fatale herself, and before she knows it, she suddenly finds herself in the city of London in the year 1952, starring in a film noir about her own life, with the opportunity to change not only her own destiny, but also her beloved grandmother’s.
When I turned to the first page of this novel, I honestly had no idea what to expect, especially since I haven’t seen a film noir in my life. However, as soon as I had finished Chapter 1, I was completely hooked. I loved the protagonist of the story, Clara. I really felt for her; her husband cheating on her, still missing the child she never had, not being happy with her career choices, the strained relationship between her mother and her... Yet, Clara manages to find the strength within her to take all of this on board and deal with it. I loved the relationship between the three generations (Clara, her mother, and her grandmother) and the whole atmosphere of the novel was just fabulous: from the glamorous vintage dresses and the shadowy film noir elements to the parts of film script included and the font of the chapter headings... Everything about this novel has been thought through and I loved the feeling of going back to London in the 1950’s and joining Clara on her journey.
‘My Life in Black and White’ is incredibly well-written and I felt myself not wanting to put it down. It’s really original and I can honestly say I have never read anything quite like this. The novel is described as a time-travel romantic comedy, which is a perfect description, and is something I think different kinds of readers will enjoy, not just lovers of chick lit. As a big fan of anything Jane Austen, I immediately ordered a copy of Kim Izzo’s novel ‘The Jane Austen Marriage Manual’ after finishing this one and her name has been added to my ‘must-read’ list, because I am already looking forward to her next release!