The Unforgettable Loretta, Darling | Katherine Blake

Front cover of The Unforgettable Loretta, Darling


When ambitious Margaret leaves Morecambe in England and reinvents herself as Hollywood make-up artist Loretta Darling, she finds herself plunged into a world of secrets, danger and lies. All that glitters on Sunset Boulevard is definitely not gold!

The Unforgettable Loretta, Darling: book review & synopsis

The Unforgettable Loretta, Darling is a brilliant read. It seethes with duplicity, menace and feminism. It’s a fabulous look behind the curtain of surface glamour to the murky underbelly of the 1950s film industry. Peppered with names still familiar to readers, like Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, the setting is completely convincing. The symbiotic nature of dubious favours is depicted vividly, along with the age-old concept of not what you know, but who you know. So much of the plot resonates with present-day life.

Loretta is magnificent; a heady mix of naive and scheming. There are times when her actions ought to be abhorrent, but it’s impossible not to be entirely on her side. She’s devious, ambitious and driven, but even at her most dangerous and, frankly, criminal, the reasons for her behaviour exonerate her completely. She’s a true feminist pioneer in a world dominated by men.

And that is the greatest success of the novel. Loretta sparkles like champagne, but is more akin to cyanide as she refuses to accept the paternalistic, sexist and often abusive attitudes of wealthy and powerful men. Because the story is told from Loretta’s viewpoint, as if she is speaking directly to the reader, there’s a real sense that she is laying herself bare and taking you into her confidence.

Loretta’s character shines through

Loretta’s sharp-witted, intelligent and absolutely determined to wreak revenge on evil manipulators. Through Loretta, themes of power, friendship, ambition and truth are brought into sharp focus, giving the story layers of interest and depth.

But for all Loretta’s feistiness and strength, there are moments when she sets aside her brash persona with an honesty that is heartbreaking. It’s not until the end of the novel that we realise just what she has endured and how far she has come since her life in Morecambe.

This book is a scintillating read. I’m really hoping this isn’t the last we see of Loretta Darling as she is, completely, unforgettable.

The Unforgettable Loretta, Darling by Katherine Blake is out now (Viking, HB, £16.99) and available from Amazon.

Read more fiction reviews by Linda Hill including My Favourite Mistake by Marian Keyes, The Intruders by Louise Jensen, A Lesson In Cruelty by Harriet Tyce, Every Move You Make by C.L. Taylor and Every Smile You Fake by Dorothy Koomson.