When a runway model in 1940s Hollywood makes a split-second decision intended to protect those she loves, she triggers a cascade of secrets that threatens to upend her daughter’s life decades later.
After winning a prestigious fashion design contest in 1948, Aster Kelly flees the world of modeling in New York and arrives in Beverly Hills to claim her prize: a design apprenticeship with Fernando Tivoli. But Fernando has no such job available. He’s busily preparing for the opportunity of a lifetime—proving to Galaxy Studios that he is the perfect couturier for their A-list stars. The moment he meets Aster, though, he knows she’s the missing ingredient he needs and asks her to be his stand-in model for Lauren Bacall. Aster is dismayed to once again have her creative potential sidelined, but when Fernando promises to mentor her if he wins the contract, she agrees.
Aster and Fernando quickly become romantically entangled with Hollywood insiders—Aster with the head of Galaxy Studios, Fernando with their biggest up-and-coming star, Christopher Page—and Aster and Fernando’s friendship becomes essential as they navigate a glamorous and complicated existence where what’s real must often be hidden, and no one is quite who they seem. As Aster’s ambitions grow and she faces a crisis, and Fernando’s future is threatened by the judgmental Hollywood machine, Aster makes a decision that changes the trajectory of their lives forever.
Twenty-five years later, despite knowing little of her mother’s time in Hollywood and being raised well outside the reaches of fame, Aster’s daughter Lissy is poised to become a Broadway star. But when the musical gets off to a rocky start, Lissy makes a rash decision of her own in an attempt to save the show. And when long-buried secrets blindside them both, mother and daughter are forced to question everything they thought they knew.
The Hidden Life of Aster Kelly is a story about the bonds of chosen family, the cost of fame and the enduring strength of love that will keep you guessing until the last page.