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The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by…

The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite

by Beatrice Colin

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3111853,461 (3.64)19
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English (15)  Dutch (2)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Go read this! ( )
  AlisonLea | Jan 10, 2015 |
The Luminous Life of Lily Aphrodite opens with Lily's birth. Her mother could be described as Bohemian and unconventional but her homelife is soon to be replaced by the 'family' she inherits as an orphan in a Berlin orphanage. Lily eventually befriends the streetwise Hanne who shows her life outside their home. When the orphanage closes Hanne and Lily lose touch (a recurring theme) and Lily has to grow up in a hurry as she struggles to survive in a brutal, war torn Germany.

This is where the real story begins and life for Lily just seems to be one trauma to deal with after another.

Things are bleak, depressing, grim and hopeless. Through it all though, Lily seems to keep her chin up, while all around her people are dropping like flies and making poor choices. There's not a lot of luminosity in Lily's life though, despite what the title tells you. I had thought that Lily would make a name for herself as an actress and I'd be able to revel in the success she enjoyed, but mostly there isn't a lot to celebrate. Any success she has is accidental or brought about by being in the right place at the right time and I never got the impression that Lily was very instrumental in getting to where she was.

Most of her good luck stems from the fact that she was breathtakingly beautiful with haunting eyes and a voice like a caress.....at least that's how everyone else sees her, Lily herself doesn't know what the fuss is about.

I didn't hate the book, but it's difficult for me to really love a book when things are so bleak. I was hoping for the payoff at the end, where some sort of reward was waiting for Lily, to compensate for all the hardship and fight she had to contend with, but No, the end is the worst part of all.....for Lily at least.

Beautifully written, and very well researched, it's brings the German era surrounding the first world war and the Weimar rule startlingly into focus.
I suppose it's content can be best summed up by the cover artwork .... it's very Film-Noir. ( )
  SilverThistle | Dec 31, 2014 |
Superficial book fiend that I am, I confess that I chose this novel without a clue as to the subject simply because of the garish but eyecatching cover, which reminded me of Tretchikoff's painting. However, although it's true that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, I wasn't disappointed. Beatrice Colin is a stunning writer, weaving poignant imagery into a bleak landscape of history, and redressing her own ignorance of time and place through the fictional biography of a German film star.

Lilly Nelly Aprhodite is born in Berlin at the end of the old century, but takes her first gasp of breath on New Year's Day, 1900, 'as if she was determined to wait'. Her parents, an actress and her Bavarian lover, make a suitably dramatic exit, and baby Lilly is raised in an orphanage where she finds Sister August, an inspiring role model, and Hanne Schmidt, her broken yet resilient best friend. Growing older with the twentieth century, Lilly is raised on a promise, like the future of Berlin itself, but is left to survive as best she can. The poverty and hunger experienced during the First World War continue in peace time, and Lilly is abandoned, neglected and abused time and again, with only Hanne's dubious company to fall back on. The two of them muddle through, with Lilly employed as a maid for a depressive countess and then working with Hanne in a 'tingle-tangle' nightclub, before being 'discovered' and launched into a briefly successful career as a film star. Lilly's life is intertwined with Berlin, and the rise and fall of the city between the wars, but also with the fate of two men who love her: a bashful soldier during the First World War, and the noble Russian who starts Lilly on the path to stardom.

It is hard to do justice to the powerful intimacy of this novel merely by describing the plot, because Lilly's 'luminous life' is part history and part fairy tale. Like the author, I have learned so much about Berlin between the wars, but Beatrice Colin's beautiful writing tempers harsh truth with her poetic phrasing: 'The city was full of the newly wed and newly widowed, half dressed in white, the other in black'. Even though Lilly's story is definitely depressing, and slowly paced for much of the book, I found myself almost instantly caught up in the narration and content to simply read and learn. ( )
1 vote AdonisGuilfoyle | Oct 31, 2010 |
Lily and Hannah. Germany and 1st WW ( )
  Mumineurope | Aug 14, 2010 |
Lilly Nelly Aphrodite wordt geboren op 1 januari 1900 in Berlijn. Ze groeit op in arme weeshuizen. Uiteindelijk wordt ze één van de grote sterren van de stille film. Haar levensverhaal speelt zich af tegen de achtergrond van de crisis van de jaren dertig en het uitbreken van de tweede wereldoorlog.
Elk hoofdstuk begint met een sfeerbeeld uit de filmwereld, bijvoorbeeld een draaidag van Asta Nielsen of een beschrijving van het uitgaansleven en bioscoopbezoek, dat in de jaren dertig hoogtij vierde. Het boek is niet zozeer hoogstaande literatuur maar wel een zeer onderhoudende sfeertekening van het dagelijkse leven en de filmwereld in de roerige eerste helft van de vorige eeuw. ( )
  23dingenvoormusea | May 2, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
The storytelling is masterful and the language magical. The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite is a rich book, in both its prose and in the strength of its characters, whose lives cross in the chaos of war and its brief, glittering aftermath.
The contrast between the narrative glamour and the historical grit can feel unsustainable at times and the extravagance of Colin's style suits Lilly's early years best, when it reflects the frantic creativity and carelessness of that era. Later, when Lilly becomes famous, the story gets swallowed up by the unreality of the film clichés it's playing with.
[T]hese pages shimmer and swell with the glamour and decadence of the era. . . Full of suspense, this is an all-feeling novel, seductively and dramatically told.
[D]eftly capturing the era’s sense of frenzied invention and seductive promise. . . Colin often writes with a supple, whimsical charm. . . But what can appear artful frequently devolves into artificiality.
added by christiguc | editNew York Times, Mike Peed (Sep 14, 2008)
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All that is transitory in only an image. -Goethe
For Veronica and Andrew.
First words
Berlin, a word that chimes in your chest like a bell.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Published as The Glimmer Palace in the US, as The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite in the UK.
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Book description
As the clock chimes the turn of the twentieth century Lilly Nelly Aphrodite takes her first breath. The Illegitimate, soon-orphaned daughter of a cabaret performer, she finds her first refuge at a Catholic orphanage-and a trajectory of reinvention begins. From urchin to maid, war bride to model, Lilly eventually finds her destiny as a famous silent-film star and enters a sweeping romance that, crossing decades and continents, becomes inextricable from the astonishing events unfolding around it.
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This novel tells the story of an orphaned daughter of a cabaret dancer and her rise from poverty and anonymity to film stardom, all set against the rise and fall of Berlin, the background of WWI, the debauchery of the Weimar era, the run-up to WWII, and the innovations in art and industry that accompanied it all.… (more)

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