Can't We Be Friends: A Novel of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Paperback)

Can't We Be Friends: A Novel of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe By Eliza Knight, Denny S. Bryce Cover Image

Can't We Be Friends: A Novel of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Paperback)

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Award-winning author Denny S. Bryce and USA Today bestselling author Eliza Knight collaborate on a brilliant novel that uncovers the boundary-breaking, genuine friendship between Ella Fitzgerald, the Queen of Jazz, and iconic movie star Marilyn Monroe. 

One woman was recognized as the premiere singer of her era with perfect pitch and tireless ambition.

One woman was the most glamorous star in Hollywood, a sex symbol who took the world by storm.

And their friendship was fast and firm…

1952: Ella Fitzgerald is a renowned jazz singer whose only roadblock to longevity is society’s attitude toward women and race. Marilyn Monroe’s star is rising despite ongoing battles with movie studio bigwigs and boyfriends. When she needs help with her singing, she wants only the best—and the best is the brilliant Ella Fitzgerald. But Ella isn’t a singing teacher and declines—then the two women meet, and to everyone’s surprise but their own, they become fast friends.

On the surface, what could they have in common? Yet each was underestimated by the men in their lives—husbands, managers, hangers-on. And both were determined to gain. Each fought for professional independence and personal agency in a time when women were expected to surrender control to those same men.

This novel reveals and celebrates their surprising bond over a decade and serves as a poignant reminder of how true friendship can cross differences to bolster and sustain us through haunting heartbreak and wild success.


Eliza Knight is an award-winning and USA Today and international bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her love of history began as a young girl when she traipsed the halls of Versailles. As an avid history buff, she’s written dozens of novels including The Mayfair Bookshop, Starring Adele Astaire, Ribbons of Scarlet, A Day of Fire, and Can’t We Be Friends, which have been translated into multiple languages. She is the creator of the popular historical blog, History Undressed, and host of the History, Books and Wine podcast. Knight lives in Maryland and Florida with her husband, three daughters, two dogs, and a turtle.



Denny S. Bryce is an award-winning and bestselling author of historical fiction, including Wild Women and the Blues. She is also an adjunct professor in the MFA program at Drexel University, a book critic for NPR, and a member of the Historical Novel Society, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Tall Poppy Writers. Currently, she resides in Savannah, Georgia.

Product Details ISBN: 9780063282902
ISBN-10: 0063282909
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 384
Language: English

“Intimate and enthralling, Can't We Be Friends is an insightful portrait of the bond between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, two women who, at first glance, would seem to have nothing in common. It was impossible to put down this compassionate and unflinching account of a unique friendship.” — Janie Chang, Globe and Mail bestselling author of The Porcelain Moon, The Library of Legends, and Dragon Springs Road

"An intimate and powerful portrayal of an unlikely pairing, a bond that blossoms and thrives in quiet moments between gal-pals but isn't enough to save them from their demons. Bryce and Knight pen a jaunty ride that captures Ella Fitzgerald's zeal for life and Marilyn Monroe's passion for the moment... The authors' flash bulb camera shines the brightest when everything unravels, and the vulnerable women who want peace and respect are left exposed. Readers will enjoy Can't We Be Friends and devour the special bond of a magical two-decades-long friendship of icons." — Vanessa Riley, Award Winning Author of Island Queen and Queen of Exiles

“A stunning portrait of two extraordinary women and the captivating friendship that blossomed between them, Can’t We Be Friends is an incredible homage to the lives of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. Denny S. Bryce and Eliza Knight offer an evocative, intimate view into the triumphs and tragedies of these two unforgettable legends. Wholly immersive, richly detailed, and emotionally resonant, Can’t We Be Friends is a must-read!" — Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of The Cuban Heiress

“In a story of two legends at the top of their game, Bryce and Knight brilliantly show the power of female friendship to bring out the best in us and make our stars shine even brighter. This deeply provocative, pitch-perfect novel reveals a connection between Ella and Marilyn that is not so much unexpected as it is transcendent.”   — Nancy Johnson, author of The Kindest Lie

“Researched meticulously, careful to honor the true history surrounding the women and their friendship, and honed to pay a gorgeous tribute to two extraordinary, trailblazing women, Can’t We Be Friends is charming, heartfelt, and above all celebratory. Book clubs and fans of history will love discussing this novel and the impact these two women had on each other.”
Booklist

"A beautiful tribute to a beautiful friendship, Can't We Be Friends, is an engrossing story of talented young stars forming an unlikely bond as they toil in an industry that underestimates women at every turn. A fascinating and intimate portrait of the price of Hollywood stardom, readers won't want to miss this author duo's dynamic collaboration." — Heather Webb, USA Today bestselling author of Queens of London

“Perfect for fans of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo...a dazzling depiction of passion, prohibition, and murder set in the night club scene of 1925 Chicago.” — Shelf Awareness on Denny S. Bryce’s Wild Women and the Blues

“The music practically pours out of the pages of Denny S. Bryce’s historical novel, set among the artists and dreamers of the 1920s.” — OprahMag.com on Wild Women and the Blues

“All the glitz and glamour of Jazz Age Chicago, along with all the mob violence, is artfully described by the Bryce in this richly told, historical fiction debut.” — Booklist on Wild Women and the Blues

"The Mayfair Bookshop is a moving, touching tale of a Bright Young Thing turned bookseller/author and her quest to find fulfillment, inspiration, and love in the chaos of the WWII home front. Eliza Knight brings Nancy Mitford to life as an appealing and uncertain young heroine in the days before she is burnished by fame and success—you cannot help but cheer her toward her destiny!"
Kate Quinn

“Just as Adele Astaire received standing ovations for her performances, so too does Eliza Knight deserve to be similarly acclaimed for this book. I can’t believe I’d never heard of this incredible woman and I loved how the novel shone a well-deserved spotlight on this less famous but exceptionally talented Astaire sibling. Bravo Eliza Knight—and please take a bow. You’ve written a showstopper of a story.”  — Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Orphan

"Starring Adele Astaire peels back the layers on Adele Astaire’s life beyond the stage while highlighting how ferociously an intrepid dreamer must fight for an edge into the spotlight. Eliza Knight’s in-depth research brings these stories to life in exquisite, vibrant detail that will captivate readers everywhere." — Madeline Martin, New York Times and international bestselling author

"Bryce has crafted a comprehensive portrait of Sarah Forbes Bonnetta using a single timeline, single narrator structure that imparts a biographical quality to the storytelling and takes time to unfold. As it does, an intimate rendering of a fascinating historical figure comes to life. Bonetta’s existence was fraught with extremes — loss and redemption, desolation and opulence, terror and love. Bryce’s sweeping depiction in “The Other Princess” delivers them all."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Long before Ginger Rogers came along, Fred Astaire’s dance partner was his sister Adele who positively dazzles in Eliza Knight’s latest work of historical fiction. We follow the spirited Adele from New York to London and beyond as she takes a young dancer under her wing. As their friendship grows, the women learn to juggle fame, love, loss and the devastation of war. Knight’s fan will surely appreciate how she once again seamlessly weaves her research into this rich tale, delivering another winner!" — Renee Rosen, USA Today bestselling author of The Social Graces