Chasing Carole

What would you do if you found out one afternoon that you were the granddaughter of Carole Lombard? For Cass McGowan, professor of film studies at Indiana University, it meant coming to terms with years of her mother’s lies about their family history. Cass decides to write a book about her grandmother; and with the help of a box she receives from Clark Gable’s son, John, she delves into Carole’s life from 1931 to her death on a mountainside in 1942. Cass’ mother, who is dying, is able to provide a few answers. But when Carole’s ghost appears to Cass and begins answering her questions, things become more unnerving. After her mother’s death, Cass buries herself in work. As her visions of Carole become more vivid, she begins to realize how difficult Carole’s decision was to give up her baby. In her diary entries, Carole relates her fears about her career, her love life and her realization about how fleeting life can be. This last revelation resonates with Cass: not only has she recently lost her mother, but she soon faces a life-threatening situation herself. Though she ignores them, those close to Cass begin to worry about her newfound obsession with Carole’s story. She continues to relive Carole’s life through the diary, including her concerns about not being able to have another baby, her concerns about Clark’s inability to be faithful to her, and her feelings about how movie stars paid for their wild lifestyles by dying young. Cass’ slow deterioration coincides with Carole’s waning days, and she fights hard to finish the book that has become more important to her than her living friends. Author Barbara Washburn tells this fictional story from both Cass and Carole’s perspectives. She lovingly gives the reader a view of what Carole’s life could have been like, and the agonizing decisions that movie stars had to make in those days. Chasing Carole is a beautiful love story, spanning three generations before coming to its heart-wrenching conclusion.