Silent Movie Bookshelf: “Missing Reels” by Farran Smith Nehme

Lost films and classic romantic comedies. These are the topics of Farran Smith Nehme’s debut novel, Missing Reels.

Thanks to Overlook Press for providing a complimentary review copy. All opinions are my own. (No one else claimed them.)

The Plot: This is the tale of Ceinwen, a shopgirl in 1980s New York City who loves vintage clothes and old movies. Her boss is a pill but one very special customer takes an interest in our heroine. A handsome, sophisticated customer with film academia connections. Le sigh!

Does this sound familiar? It should. This is the tried and true plot of many a romantic comedy from the silent and classic eras of film. There are lots of callbacks to the classics, from character names to film references but there is also an important plot element. You see, this is a bit of a mystery. Ceinwen’s neighbor is a certified, bona fide actress and there is some missing film to track down…

Who is it for? While the overall plot is pure romantic comedy, this book is best for classic film fans. Will you still be able to follow the story without knowing what The Ox-Bow Incident is? Yes but you’ll have a lot more fun if you spend your evenings with TCM and can chuckle at characters named Talmadge and arguments about which classic VHS to pop in for the evening. Veterans of retail work will also appreciate Ceinwen’s adventures in customer service.

You can read more of Farran Smith Nehme’s work at her sparkling classic film blog, Self-Styled Siren.

Note: This is my final review of a contemporary novel on the site. I love these books dearly but feel that I want to take the book department of my site in a new direction. In the future, I will be covering the “silent films in novels” angle with author interviews. It’s going to be fun!