Seducing Ingrid Bergman, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Chris Greenhalgh, screenwriter of the 2009 film Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, captures the love affair between two unforgettable people: Casablanca actress Ingrid Bergman and legendary photographer Robert Capa, in this heart-wrenching novel Seducing Ingrid Bergman.

June, 1945. In newly liberated Paris, battle-ravaged photographer Robert Capa is drowning his sorrows.

After ten years of recording horror and violence, he longs for for a diversion.

Ingrid Bergman has been sent to entertain the troops and when she walks into the Ritz Hotel, Capa is enchanted.

From the moment he slips a mischievous invitation to dinner under her door, the two find themselves helplessly attracted.

Ingrid, tired of her passionless marriage, and her controlling film studio, is desperate for freedom and excitement. And Capa is willing to oblige. Dinners in cafes he can't afford. Night walks along the Seine. Dancing barefoot in nightclubs. Trysts in hotel rooms. He brings her back to life and she fills the hole inside him.

With everything at stake, both Capa and Ingrid are presented with terrible choices. Full of the romantic glamour of 40s Paris and Hollywood, Seducing Ingrid Bergman tells the heart-wrenching story of the secret affair between the iconic Casablanca star and the famous photographer. 'Delightful and engrossing ...a marvellous piece of writing ...I read it with huge enjoyment' Barbara Erskine, author of Whispers in the Sand 'Greenhalgh's characters are sharply drawn, in particular the contrast between Bergman's inner turmoil and the slick celebrity seen by the public.

Capas's self-image is equally conflicted, but together the two conjure a delicious tale of illicit freedom and, ultimately, thwarted love' Financial Times Chris Greenhalgh is the prize-winning author of three volumes of poetry, a novel, and wrote the screenplay for Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, which occupied the prestigious closing slot at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

He lives with his wife and two sons in Sevenoaks.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Putnam Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9780670922116



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Celebrated war photographer Robert Capa put himself in harm's way to capture the gritty, terrible, hell of war alongside the soldiers. In the opening of this novelization focused on his pivotal affair with Ingrid Bergman, he parachutes into the French countryside with paratroopers, snapping pictures, dispassionately registering men dying around him. He snaps blurry but important pictures of the storming of the beaches of Normandy as he follows so many young men into the churning bloodbath of that pivotal battle. He is on hand for the end of World War II in Europe, living in Paris, battle-worn and tired, as the war winds down and the world tries to right itself. Ingrid Bergman, the Academy Award winning actress whose life is stultifying, safe, and completely prescribed, has just arrived in Paris to entertain the troops still waiting to be returned home to the States when she meets Capa at the Ritz Hotel.As these two very different people, both at a crossroads in their lives and searching for direction, come together in a passionate and brief all-consuming affair, they cannot escape their pasts or avoid their futures, only able to snatch a tiny piece of time out of time with each other. Greenhalgh has vividly drawn a tortured Capa, hard-drinking, casual with money, and unable to envision life in a civilian world. Capa narrates his own sections in first person, his inner turmoil and unsettled feeling coming through in a staccato and sometimes choppy voice. Bergman's sections are narrated in the third person, making her character more remote and more of a cipher than Capa's character. Constrained by her public image, the world's and her studio's expectations of her, and the very fact of her marriage to husband Petter plus the existence of her small daughter, Bergman has to subsume her desire for Capa and their love affair, keep it clandestine and private in order to ensure her seemingly assured Hollywood future. The story of their affair is told using very photographic imagery which occasionally tips over the top into something a little too saccharine, especially given the fact that their love story was in fact doomed to be destroyed by the glare of Hollywood, Capa's demons, and Bergman's obligations. Both the post-WWII Parisian setting and the lushly successful Los Angeles scenes were sharply observed and cinematically described and Greenhalgh has woven both Capa's and Bergman's pasts skillfully into the narrative, adroitly placing their love in the larger context of their lives. Their love may not have been destined to last forever but it was certainly pivotal for both of them, shaping each differently and driving them to their ultimate decisions. Obviously, as both Capa and Bergman were real people, Greenhalgh has had to make them as believable as possible given what we know about them but he has added many thoughts and feelings that no one could have known, integrating his own inventions into the real life people and doing it well enough that we don't question the truth of their inner selves. An intriguing read, fans of Golden Age Hollywood will certainly appreciate this glimpse of a moment in the life of one of the iconic actresses of the era, and all readers will most likely be inspired to visit (or revisit) Bergman's films and to search out Capa's amazing photographs in the wake of this novel.