November 16, 2012 8:22 pm

An idealised romance

A fictional retelling of a Hollywood star’s thwarted love affair with a legendary photographer

Seducing Ingrid Bergman, by Chris Greenhalgh, Penguin, RRP£7.99, 272 pages

 

When Robert Capa and Ingrid Bergman meet in Paris in 1945, the legendary photographer captures the Hollywood starlet’s imagination and they begin an idealised romance.

In his fictional retelling of their affair, Chris Greenhalgh, author of Coco and Igor (2002), a novel based on the relationship between Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky that was made into a film in 2009, is eloquent on the nature of love and betrayal. Capa’s grizzled, drunken ways contrast starkly with the elegance of Bergman and their affair, seemingly out of time and suspended from the brutality of the war, is one that could scarcely be imagined in the modern era.

Greenhalgh’s characters are sharply drawn, in particular the contrast between Bergman’s inner turmoil and the slick celebrity seen by the public. Capa’s self-image is equally conflicted (a battle-hardened snapper or family man manqué?), but together the two conjure a delicious tale of illicit freedom and, ultimately, thwarted love.

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