Book Review: Third Act by Kevin Mori

“I mostly felt like a living, breathing prop, long the fate of Buster’s leading ladies. Probably the only one who had ever put him in his place was his mother way back in the vaudeville days. I relished the occasions when I could turn the tables on him.”

Kevin Mori, Third Act

Title: Third Act: A Novel of Buster Keaton
Author: Kevin Mori
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 292 (eBook)
Publish Date: October 31st, 2022

My Rating: ★★★½
Read: 10/1/2022 – 10/15/2022


Third Act: A Novel of Buster Keaton takes us back to the good old days of Hollywood… or were they? What many of us think of as the Golden Age of Hollywood was at one point considered to be the modernization of motion pictures. Buster Keaton, a once-renowned silent film star, isn’t quite sure where he belongs in the age of talkies and technicolor.

The book is told from two points of view, Buster’s and Eleanor Norris’. In the first two chapters, we get some backstory about each of their performing backgrounds growing up in show business. As Eleanor states at one point, it was strange for her to think of anyone not being involved with some element of performing.

After the backstories, the beginning of the book shows more of them in their different places in Hollywood as adults, most notably Eleanor’s involvement in The Wizard of Oz. It’s on that set she meets Buster Keaton. From there, we follow their relationship both professionally and personally.

I learned a lot from reading this book. Though I do consider myself on some level to be an Old Hollywood junkie, I’m not super well acquainted with silent films or their performers. I do know Buster Keaton by name and can recognize a few of his film titles and famous scenes if quizzed on them, but I didn’t know anything about him outside of some clips or the fact a lot of his films had once been deemed lost.

Personally, I would have enjoyed a story like this more if it were told in the third-person point of view. Buster and Eleanor are wonderful personalities to read about, I just found myself struggling to deeply connect given they were real-life entities. I’ll deem this a ‘me’ issue, though. The book is quite engaging, though it was a slow build-up which had me feeling impatient to get to the heart of the story. My last quip is that there was a lot of name-dropping. Not many of them had much (if any) relevance to the story and it was redundant after a while.

If you’re a fan of silent films, the classics, and Old Hollywood in general, I definitely recommend this book. It made me want to properly watch one of Buster Keaton’s films. It’s fun, nostalgic, and informative.

Thanks to Discovery for providing a free digital copy to read and review.

Likes & Dislikes:

What I liked:

  • The characters. Buster Keaton was an interesting person.
  • The Old Hollywood nostalgia.
  • A behind-the-scenes look at things. Even in fiction, it’s an interesting perspective to explore.

What I didn’t like:

  • Slow to start. It took a while for the story to find its rhythm.
  • There were a lot of mentions of big names in Hollywood that had little to no impact on the story. I understand the temptation, but it wasn’t necessary throughout the entire book.


This was a cute book. I think there could be some improvements in the structure but overall it’s a good debut. Buster Keaton has always fascinated me, yet this was the first time I’ve extended myself to learn more about him.

Where to buy the book:

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