Season of the Gods: A Novel

by Robert Matzen


ISBN: 978-1-7352738-7-7

U.S. Publication Date: October 3, 2023

Trade Paperback Original486 Pages

$18.00 U.S./$24.00 CAN


Audiobook read by Holly Adams


Also Kindle

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-7352738-8-4


“A master storyteller, Matzen has given us a great story—intimate, intense, and unforgettable.”

Foreword Reviews on Robert Matzen


A Publishers Weekly Book Life Editor's Pick!'

“Matzen’s thorough, revealing treatment of the process of studio creation will grip lovers of classic movies, as will his dramatization of the cast and crew’s brilliance, self-doubt, and messy lives. Especially exciting is his treatment of some of the barriers that they dared break, like presenting a Black man as the equal and best friend of the white lead. Matzen’s crisp storytelling will send readers back to the film with fresh eyes. Marvelous novel of the creation of Classic Hollywood’s most beloved film.”

Publishers Weekly Book Life


"For those who know and love Casablanca, Matzen has crafted an impressive dramatization of its birth, centering the work of the real-life Irene Lee (nee Levine). Readers will marvel at how much filmmaking has changed in the last 80 years—and how much it hasn’t. An epic industry novel about the making of a Hollywood classic."

Kirkus Reviews


“Absolutely fascinating! Robert Matzen is known for his meticulously researched non-fiction, but his first foray into fiction is not to be missed. You may think you know the beloved film Casablanca, but you’ll be riveted by this story behind the story. Season of the Gods is must-read fiction for lovers of old Hollywood.”

Brenda Janowitz

Author, The Audrey Hepburn Estate and The Grace Kelly Dress


"Robert Matzen’s intimate knowledge of the studio system era at Warner Bros. combined with his storytelling acumen brings the backstory of the making of Casablanca—the greatest Hollywood movie of all time—to life.”

Alan K. Rode

Author, Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film

Meet Irene Lee…

head of the Story Department at Warner Bros. and the only female executive at the studio. When "Renie" finds an unproduced stage play set in Morocco, she sees an opportunity to secure her place as an equal to the studio’s most powerful men. No one agrees until two brash young studio writers, Julius and Philip Epstein, decide to back Renie’s gamble. Their screenplay's name: Casablanca.


Renie has another problem. With what she considers a “junkyard of a love life” behind her, she meets a man who seems too good to be true and so she’s convinced she can’t get involved. She’s a career girl with no time for romance—and yet the attraction can’t be denied.

Meet "the Boys"...

Julius (left) and Philip (right) Epstein, 32-year-old twins from the Lower East Side of New York City, who have been writing for Warner Bros. for 5 and 4 years, respectively. They have risen steadily through the screenwriter ranks at the studio and see this gamble by Renie (their boss) as a worthwhile quest. The boys, as they're known on the lot because they're always seen together and no one can tell them apart, craft great lines for the developing script.


"I came to Casablanca for the waters," says Rick.

"What waters? We're in the desert!" says Renault.

"I was misinformed," says Rick.


"I've got this gun pointed right at your heart," says Rick to Renault.

"That is my least vulnerable spot," says Renault.


But Casablanca needed more than ironic humor. It needed a heart and soul and ideals for a world in its darkest hour. In short, Renie and the boys needed help to realize her dream of a perfect motion picture.

Set against the first months of World War II, Season of the Gods careens across Hollywood’s Golden Age to tell the spellbinding and unlikely story of a masterpiece through the eyes of all who made it happen.


Season of the Gods is the debut novel of Robert Matzen, internationally known bestselling author of Dutch Girl, Mission, and seven other books. He is a Hollywood historian specializing in World War II who has appeared on national broadcast outlets including MSNBC's Morning Joe, FOX NEWS primetime, NPR, and i24. His byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal and Air Mail.

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