Claude Ballard is a legend in film making. Having started at the times of the brothers Lumière and the silent film, his „The Electric Hotel“ was a highly innovative masterpiece which is meant to have been lost for decades. Yet, when a student comes to interview Ballard about his life and work, he not only learns about the beginning of the moving pictures, but also makes an interesting discovery.
Dominic Smith’s novel is a must read for film lovers, at the example of Claude Ballard who wanders the streets of Paris and New York of 1910 to capture real life through the lens, the history and development of the silent film is narrated. His only film – “The Electric Hotel” – could have been a great success, but times weren’t easy and so were the women, first and foremost Sabine Montrose the actress who had the main role in his film and his life.
The cinematic background is clearly well researched and also the times that the characters remember come to life vividly. Yet, I am not enough into cinema to really enjoy this intensive read and the characters were quite hard for me to relate to. I am sure that readers with more interest I the topic will find a lot more delight in the novel than I did.