For some reason I’ve read quite a few novels based on Marilyn. I wrote this for AReCafe on the occasion of her birthday.

Marilyn Monroe would be 87 tomorrow, and had she lived we’re certain she would have remained ageless and the epitome of glamour. No doubt she’d have given Betty White a run for her money in the national treasure race, too, but we must stay content with memories of classic movies and great beauty. When you browse OmniLit.com to add to your TBR list, you’ll find a few Marilyn-inspired works of fiction – why not celebrate this icon’s birthday with an engrossing summer read?

Marilyn’s life played out like a dramatic page-turner: tragic romances, loneliness in crowds of admirers, and political intrigue. Writers have speculated much about her life and death in novels and film, and OmniLit is your ticket to these compelling stories:

Misfit by Adam Braver: Marilyn Monroe is one of the most iconic figures in the history of Hollywood, and her legendary work on the big screen is eclipsed only perhaps by the legend of her life off it. Adam Braver’s Misfit centers on the last weekend of Monroe’s life, which she spent at Frank Sinatra’s resort, the Cal Neva Lodge, in Lake Tahoe. Melding facts with fiction, Braver takes moments throughout Monroe’s life—her childhood, her marriages with Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, her studies with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, and her role in The Misfits, the film Miller wrote for her—and explores how they informed her tragic end.

The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan: In November 1960, Frank Sinatra gave Marilyn Monroe a dog. His name was Mafia Honey, or Maf for short. He had an instinct for celebrity. For politics. For psychoanalysis. For literature. For interior decoration. For Liver Treat with a side order of National Biscuits.

Maf was with Marilyn for the last two years of her life, first in New York, where she mixed with everyone who was anyone—the art dealer Leo Castelli, Lee Strasberg and the Actors Studio crowd, Upper West Side émigrés—then back to Los Angeles. She took him to meet President Kennedy and to Hollywood restaurants, department stores, and interviews. To Mexico, for her divorce.

With style, brilliance, and panache, Andrew O’Hagan has drawn a one-of-a-kind portrait of the woman behind the icon, and the dog behind the woman.

The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker: In the early-morning hours of August 5, 1962, Los Angeles County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald arrives at the home of the world’s most famous movie star, now lying dead in her bedroom, naked and still clutching a telephone. There he discovers The Book of Secrets – Marilyn Monroe’s diary – revealing a doomed love affair with a man she refers to only as “The General.” In the following days, Ben unravels a wide-ranging cover-up and some heartbreaking truths about the fragile, luminous woman behind the celebrity. Soon the sinister and surreal accounts in The Book of Secrets bleed into Ben’s own life, and he finds himself, like Monroe, trapped in a deepening paranoid conspiracy. The Empty Glass is an unforgettable combination of the riveting facts and legendary theories that have dogged Monroe, the Kennedy’s, the Mafia, and even the CIA for decades. It is an exciting debut from a remarkable new thriller writer.

Compiled by Kathryn Lively