Leading Men Summary & Study Guide

Christopher Castellani
This Study Guide consists of approximately 98 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Leading Men.
This section contains 913 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Leading Men Study Guide

Leading Men Summary & Study Guide Description

Leading Men Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Leading Men by Christopher Castellani.

The following version of this book was used to create the guide: Castellani, Christopher. Leading Men. Penguin Random House LLC, 2019.

Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo are invited to a glamorous party in Portofino hosted by Truman Capote in the summer of 1953. Amidst the luxury of the Delphino hotel, Frank and Tenn meet the American novelist John Horne Burns and his Italian lover Sandro Nencini. Truman introduces them to Anja and Bitte Blomgren, a stunning mother-daughter duo from Sweden. Ten years later, Frank Merlo lies dying in a hospital bed having received a postcard from Anja, now universally known as Hollywood actress Anja Bloom.

Shortly before the 21st century, retired actress Anja Blomgren lives in New York City. She finds a young man waiting at her doorstep. The son of Sandro Nencini, whose name he shares, wants to hear stories of his late father and Anja’s career. She calls the young man Sandrino, and as they discuss his father, Anja reminisces about her youth spent in Italy.

The night after Truman’s party, Frank, Tennessee, Jack, Sandro, Anja, and Bitte leave a nearby bar as the sun is rising. The group spends the day together talking and relaxing at Paraggi beach. They plan a sightseeing trip to the monuments at Testa del Lupo to see its mountain view of Portofino.

In the present, Sandrino disrupts Anja’s solitary life as their friendship develops. Sandrino introduces Anja to his boyfriend Trevor, who is infatuated with Tennessee Williams. Anja reveals that she has the last play ever written by Tennessee Williams.

On the drive to Testa del Lupo, Tenn discusses the film connections he will introduce Anja to. Frank learns from Sandro that, despite Jack’s boasts about his recent novel, his editor had rejected the manuscript. Sandro finds comfort in Frank, who understands the struggles of loving a writer. On the edge of the cliff at Testa del Lupo, the group is attacked by eight gypsy boys brandishing spears. Men come to the group’s rescue, chasing most of the gypsies away. The leader of the gypsies remains, and he is beaten and thrown off the cliff.

In 1982, Anja and Tennessee meet for lunch at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. They have not spoken in nineteen years, ever since Tenn left Frank to die alone in Memorial Hospital. Tenn wants to write a play for Anja to star in. She accepts his offer on the condition that it be dedicated to Frank. Less than a year later, Tennessee is found dead in a nearby hotel from a drug overdose.

In the present, Sandrino, Anja, and Trevor participate in a séance to contact the deceased Tennessee Williams to ask permission to read his final play, Call it Joy. They smoke marijuana and Anja sees Frank’s figure standing by the window.

Anja moves into the apartment shared by Frank and Tenn in Rome. Frank finds her passport and learns that Anja is 17, and not 22 as she claimed. Anja visits the film set of Senso, which Tenn is writing the script for. At dinner with Tennessee’s famous friends, Anja gives a dramatic retelling of the events at Testa del Lupo, gaining the attention of up-and-coming director Martin Hovland. From his hospital bed, Frank recalls the decline of his relationship with Tennessee. As Frank attempted to hide his illness, he had become increasingly distant, and Tenn had become wildly paranoid on the barbiturates and speed prescribed by his physician.

In Anja’s apartment in New York, Anja, Sandrino, and Trevor read Call it Joy. The play is undeniably awful; the last 20 years of Tennessee Williams’ career consisted of multiple failed plays, as he became increasingly mentally unstable and dependent on drugs and alcohol.

Frank receives an urgent telegram from Sandro begging him to visit Marina di Cecina, where Jack is having a breakdown. When he arrives, he finds Jack recovering from heatstroke. Over the weekend, Jack drinks and is hostile and rude to Sandro. On Frank’s last night, Jack is rushed to the hospital and dies of a stroke at the age of 36.

In the present, Anja flies to Provincetown, Massachusetts and visits the Atlantic House Bar, where Sandrino and Trevor have convinced her to produce Call it Joy. Anja had chosen this location, as it was the place Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo met.

Frank is cast in a minor role in Senso, and himself, Anja, and Tenn travel to Vicenza for filming. They spend several joyous days together in Venice, dreaming of future fame. This is the last time Frank will ever see Anja. Months later, Frank finds out that his scene in Senso has been cut.

Anja flies to Provincetown for the last dress rehearsals of Call it Joy. The performance is bad, and the owner considers cancelling the show. Sandrino helps Anja understand that she is the problem with the play; she does not respect the role, or Tennessee having written it for her. In a last-minute revision, Anja changes her part as Gisele the bartender to Gisele Lemonade the drag queen to be played by Trevor.

Days before Frank’s death, Tennessee visits him in the hospital. In the park on the hospital grounds, Frank and Tenn have a final heart to heart. Frank considers saying ‘I love you’ to Tenn for the first time in their 15-year relationship, but feels that to say the words would be to admit his life is over.

Read more from the Study Guide

This section contains 913 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Leading Men Study Guide
Leading Men from BookRags. (c)2022 BookRags, Inc. All rights reserved.