Leading Men

By Christopher Castellani,

Book cover of Leading Men

Book description

An expansive yet intimate story of desire, artistic ambition, and fidelity, set in the glamorous literary and film circles of 1950s Italy

In July of 1953, at a glittering party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Italy, Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo meet Anja Blomgren, a mysterious…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Leading Men as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Author Christopher Castellani stumbled onto quite the rich playground when he first read about the life of Frank Merlo in a book he found in a used bookstore.

The partner of Tennessee Williams for 15 years, Merlo was a working-class New Jersey boy from an Italian family, and a war hero, who also worked as the legendary playwright’s personal assistant during the height of his career. Merlo, however, had creative aspirations of his own. He wanted to be an actor.

Leading Men reimagines the pair’s life together in a griping work of historical fiction. Set in the Italian Riviera in…

If there is something written by Tennessee Williams that I’ve not read, I’d be surprised. All I’ve known about his personal life is that he was gay, but what that meant to him, or how he expressed it, were mysteries to me until I read Leading Men, a fictionalized account of Tennessee Williams’s 30-year love affair with Frank Merlo. Set largely in Italy, it’s filled with dazzling characters and backstage intrigue. It’s also a heartbreaking novel about life in the shadows of greatness. A book that hasn’t left me since I read it and I’m sure to read it…

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