Book Review: The Purple Diaries


The Purple Diaries: Mary Astor and the Most Sensational Hollywood Scandal of the 1930s

Joseph Egan

Diversion Publishing

300 pages


Mary Astor was a well know Hollywood actress that started her career in silent films in the 1920s and continued to have a career all the way until the 60s. Somewhat of a romantic, Mary fell for men easily. From a love affair with John Barrymore when she was 17, up through her marriage to Franklyn Thorpe, Mary shared her thoughts and dreams and exploits with her diaries. Despite being a well know actress, it never occurred to Mary to safeguard the diaries. Her husband, Dr. Thorpe, became irate to read of her true feelings towards him in her diary. He used them to negotiate a divorce that was beneficial only to him. Mary went along with his demands to insure that her diaries wouldn’t be publicized, but came to the conclusion that in order to protect her daughter, she would be forced to file for custody in court.

The Purple Diaries focuses mainly on the custody case between Mary Astor and Franklyn Thorpe. The trial that ensued, and Franklyn’s attempts to have Mary’s diaries submitted into court as evidence, were front page fodder for the local newspaper for quite some time, not to mention the impact that the trial had on Hollywood and Mary’s career, as well as the careers of those mentioned in her diaries. Although we are used to celebrities these days having their personal business shared worldwide, this custody case was a trailblazer as far as leaking the personal details of a Hollywood star’s life.


My thoughts:

The Purple Diaries was everything I want as far as non fiction goes. It was intensely readable and–BONUS–there were TONS of photographs included. The author and publisher truly did a phenomenal job of including personal photos and incorporating them in the text in a way that really enhanced the book. I wish more non fiction books would follow suit.

I had heard of Mary Astor prior to reading The Purple Diaries but really didn’t know much about her. I was very impressed with her ability to handle the stress and pressure of the custody case, which was only exacerbated by her ex husband’s malicious behavior and her private words not only being used against her but also being shared with the entire world. She shared that the diaries becoming public was one of the most shameful moments of her life, and I can only imagine the heartache she went through.

This book was extremely well researched and well written.

For a chance to win a copy of The Purple Diaries, please leave a comment or like this post. A winner will be chosen at random a week from today.

I received an egalley of this book from the publisher for my honest review.



One Response

  1. I haven’t seen this one around but it certainly sounds like one I’d enjoy reading a lot.

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