Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#NewSeries – ‘Pot Luck’ – #Bookreview – The First Actress: A Novel of Sarah Bernhardt by C. W. Gortner – Abbie Johnson Taylor

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audiencemine. The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the last six months of 2020

It is an opportunity to showcase your writing skill to my readers and also to share on my social media. Which combined is around the 46,000 mark. If you are an author your books will be mentioned too, along with their buy links and your other social media contacts. Head over to find out how to participate: Posts from Your Archives 2021

This is the second post by Abbie Johnson Taylor and is her book review for a book about the iconic actress Sarah Bernhardt by C.W. Gortner.

The First Actress: A Novel of Sarah Bernhardt by [C.  W. Gortner]

What Amazon Says

“This novel about Sarah Bernhardt, the iconic French actress, is both a riveting portrait of the artist as a passionate young woman and a luscious historical novel full of period detail.”—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of Mistress of the Ritz and The Aviator’s Wife

From her beginnings as the daughter of a courtesan to her extraordinary transformation into the most celebrated actress of her era, Sarah Bernhardt is brought to life by an internationally bestselling author praised for his historical novels featuring famous women.

Sarah’s highly dramatic life starts when she returns to Paris after her convent schooling and is confronted by her mother’s demand to follow in the family trade as a courtesan. To escape this fate, Sarah pursues a career onstage at the esteemed Comédie-Française, until her rebellious acting style leads to her scandalous dismissal. Only nineteen years old and unemployed, Sarah is forced to submit to her mother’s wishes. But her seductive ease as a courtesan comes to an abrupt end when she discovers she is pregnant. Unwilling to give up her child, Sarah defies social condemnation and is cast adrift, penniless and alone.

With her striking beauty and innovative performances in a bohemian theater, Sarah catapults to unexpected success; suddenly, audiences clamor to see this controversial young actress. But her world is torn asunder by the brutal 1870 siege of Paris. Sarah refuses to abandon the ravaged city, nursing wounded soldiers and risking her life.

Her return to the Comédie and her tempestuous affair with her leading man plunge Sarah into a fierce quest for independence. Undeterred, she risks everything to become France’s most acclaimed actress, enthralling audiences with her shocking portrayals of female and male characters. Sarah’s daring talent and outrageous London engagement pave her path to worldwide celebrity, with sold-out tours in Europe and America.

Told in her own voice, this is Sarah Bernhardt’s incandescent story—a fascinating, intimate account of a woman whose unrivaled talent and indomitable spirit has enshrined her in history as the Divine Sarah.

Abbie’s review of the book

When I was in college, my mother and I once had our palms read at a local fair. The palmist told my mother she had the hands of Sarah Bernhardt. Not knowing who Sarah Bernhardt was, I asked my mother, who told me she’d been an actress. Mother also loved to act and was involved in community theater and directed plays at the college where she taught English and communications. Go figure!

I must admit that if I hadn’t wanted to know more about this celebrity’s life and career, I probably wouldn’t have read The First Actress: A Novel of Sarah Bernhardt after reading Amazon’s detailed synopsis, which tells her story in a nutshell. I was intrigued to learn that one of the online book discussion groups in which I participate would be talking about this book. I’m glad I read it, long as it is. It’s one of those books that is hard to put aside once you’ve started reading it.

I love the author’s first-person narration of Sarah’s story, from her childhood, to her roller-coaster-like acting career, to her success in London, which was a major turning point in her life. It’s amazing how C. W. Gortner got inside Sarah’s head to tell us what she was thinking and feeling all the time. I found the afterword at the end, which provides detailed information about her life and career, fascinating. Even if you’re not into plays, especially older French plays, if you enjoy stories of courage in the face of adversity, you’ll love this book, as I did.

©Abbie Johnson Taylor 2020

Books by Abbie Johnson Taylor

About The Red Dress

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

A review for The Red Dress August 2020

The following is a portion of a review from Gerardo Corripio, who listened to the recorded version from the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled. (NLS) It was posted on an email list for NLS users.

This is one of those novels that’s a light read, but also has lots of little life tidbits that get you to think. The moral that comes to mind after reading the novel is something to the effect of “closing cycles”. It’s very realistically done, and I was able to readily identify with the characters, their situations and dynamics needed to cope. Forgiveness and its rewards are also a moral of the novel. How liberating it can be, not only for the ones affected, but for the families involved!

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Buy: Amazon US: Blog: Abbie’s Corner WordPress Goodreads: Abbie Johnson Taylor

I live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband Bill, totally blind, who was partially paralyzed by two strokes soon after we were married. Before that, I was a registered music therapist and worked for fifteen years in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. I have a visual impairment, and during this time, I facilitated a support group for others like me. I also taught braille and served on the advisory board of a trust fund that allows persons with blindness or low vision to purchase adaptive equipment and services.

I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir and am working on another novel. My poems, short stories, and essays have been published in various journals and anthologies. I belong to several writers’ organizations and a women’s singing group and take water exercise classes at the YMCA

Thanks to Abbie for letting me share posts from her archives and I know she would be delighted to receive your feedback. Thanks Sally.


Head over to find out how to participate: Posts from Your Archives 2021

24 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#NewSeries – ‘Pot Luck’ – #Bookreview – The First Actress: A Novel of Sarah Bernhardt by C. W. Gortner – Abbie Johnson Taylor

  1. That’s a great review. I’m not sure I’d really want to read a life of Sarah Bernhardt by somebody else, but Abbie makes you feel that you might mistake it for reading an autobiography! I may even add it to my TBR (ultimate accolade)!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thanks to all of you who commented so far. Thank you, Sally, for sharing my review, and thank you, Patty, for reblogging. The Red Dress would be a perfect summer read because most of the action takes place in June and July. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up 11th April -17th April 2021 – Mystery, 1960s Hits, Relationships, Green Cooking, Reviews, Stories and Humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

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

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter 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.