Set in golden age Hollywood and the burgeoning days of Las Vegas, The Magnificent Esme Wells is a dazzling, bittersweet story of family, love, and deception. We follow Esme-the irrepressible daughter of a Mafia gofer and a Busby Berkeley showgirl-as she comes of age amid racetracks and casinos, mobsters and starlets, on her path to becoming the first burlesque artist on the Las Vegas Strip.Young Esme Wells spends her days where no child should. She wanders the Hollywood Park racetrack trailing her gambling-obsessed father, and the MGM soundstages following her too-beautiful chorus-girl mother, both parents bit players in the big, jostling worlds of mobsters and movie moguls of late 1930s Los Angeles. Illiterate, unkempt, intelligent, and willful, Esme is as ambitious as her parents, and these three opportunists struggle to force the world to open up its fortunes to them. When her father moves to Las Vegas just after the war-to help Bugsy Siegel open his famous Flamingo Hotel-Esme accompanies him. And there, the daughter, now a stunner like her mother, catches the attention of one of the new Strip's most powerful men.Narrated by the twentysomething Esme, The Magnificent Esme Wells moves between pre-WWII Hollywood and postwar Las Vegas-a golden age when gangsters and movie moguls were often indistinguishable in their scramble for power. Esme's voice-sharp, observant, with a quiet, mordant wit-chronicles the rise and fall and further fall of her complicated parents, as well as of her own painful reckoning with love and life. A coming-of-age story with a tinge of noir, The Magnificent Esme Wells portrays the promises and perils of the American dream and its dreamers.