Would Irving Thalberg have enjoyed audiobooks?

Irving Thalberg, the legendary head of production at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer once said famously (or infamously as it turned out)

“Novelty is always welcome but talking pictures are just a fad.”

He had to be convinced on the idea of adopting that new-fangled format those Warner boys were pushing: the talkies. “Why spoil pictures with all that blah-blah-blah?” was his way of thinking. To be fair, he wasn’t the only movie mogul saying that. But he took longer than the rest of them, which is why MGM were late to the talkies party. (They didn’t release their first talkie, Broadway Melody, until 16 months after The Jazz Singer.)

If Irving were alive today, I wonder what he would make of audiobooks. Would he be an early adopter of new technology? Or would he have said, “Books were made to be read. On paper. With pages. So that you can sniff that bookish smell.”

It’s hard to say, but I do think he would approve of the audiobook version of my novel about his life – THE HEART OF THE LION, a novel of Irving Thalberg’s Hollywood – that came out this week.

"The Heart of the Lion - A novel of Irving Thalberg's Hollywood" by Martin Turnbull, Audiobook narrated by Donald Davenport

Narrating my take on Irving Thalberg’s extraordinary life is Donald Davenport, who has done a fine job giving voice to someone who was on the quiet side, who thought deeply about everything he did, and whose natural inclination was to turn inward. This meant that he was not the cigar-chomping, woman-chasing, big-talking movie baron that his contemporaries were, and yet he out-did them all.

Here’s a rather touching quote from someone who knew him well, the daughter of MGM boss, Louis B. Mayer:

And so, if you like to consume your fiction aurally, The Heart of the Lion is now available in audiobook format.




Some reviews for The Heart of the Lion:

Martin Turnbull has created magic once again. Irving Thalberg came to life in the pages of this book and I felt I was part of the story-I was completely engaged the entire book. Such masterful story telling! Such real characters! Thank you for another amazing look into the early years of Hollywood.


I very rarely write a review but I had to on this book. Every book Martin Turnbull writes is absolutely excellent and this one is no exception. He does his research and turns it into a story that is great to read. Such a talented writer. I wish the book was 1000 pages long so I could still be reading it!


We read this book in two sittings, and probably would have done so even if we didn’t have an interest in Hollywood history. As a study of a man and an industry, The Heart of the Lion is a terrific read, and we heartily recommend it. – Silver Screenings:


Turnbull expertly draws out the tension inherent in Thalberg’s constant awareness of his own frailty, even as he feverishly maintains a punishing work schedule. While the behind-the-scenes glimpses into the lives of a parade of famous stars make for a fascinating and entertaining read, the heart of the novel is Turnbull’s depiction of Thalberg’s emotional life. – Art in Fiction


Links to all the formats can be found on my website.


Also by Martin Turnbull:

The Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels

Book 1 – The Garden on Sunset
Book 2 – The Trouble with Scarlett
Book 3 – Citizen Hollywood
Book 4 – Searchlights and Shadows
Book 5 – Reds in the Beds
Book 6 – Twisted Boulevard
Book 7 – Tinseltown Confidential
Book 8 – City of Myths
Book 9 – Closing Credits

Chasing Salomé: a novel of 1920s Hollywood


Grab your free books now (limited time offer)~oOo~

Connect with Martin Turnbull:







About Martin Turnbull

The Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels blog is by Martin Turnbull, a Los Angeles based historical fiction author of a series of novels set at the Garden of Allah Hotel, which stood on Sunset Blvd from 1927 to 1959. Check him out at www.martinturnbull.com and Facebook: "gardenofallahnovels"
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4 Responses to Would Irving Thalberg have enjoyed audiobooks?

  1. Stefanie says:

    You might be interested in Matthew Rubery’s audio book history the Untold Story of the Talking Book. It goes from where audio books were first invented to today’s commercial audio book industry. And yes, it is available in audio.

  2. Sharon Peace says:


    I’m not one for social media but I just wanted to tell you how much I love your books. The only problem I have is that I simply can’t put them down and my husband gets neglected!

    Thank you for all your hard work and expertise.

    On Fri, 9 Oct 2020, 8:10 pm Official blog of Martin Turnbull, author of the Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels, wrote:

    > Martin Turnbull posted: ” Irving Thalberg, the legendary head of > production at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer once said famously (or infamously as it > turned out) “Novelty is always welcome but talking pictures are just a > fad.” He had to be convinced on the idea of adopting th” >

    • Hi Sharon, thanks for stopping by and letting me know much you’ve been enjoying my books! I’m very glad to hear that. And please pass on my sincere apologies to your husband. I take full responsibility for the neglect!

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