The nod to Jane Austen in the article may add an extra bit of interest for me.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Glitter Baby by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
I'm not usually a romance reader. This one was given to me by my best friends. Romance novels are her guilty pleasure. She even hides them behind other books on her bookshelf so they aren't in plain sight. Actually, she told me that she was putting a lot of trust in me b/c she does NOT loan out this book. She likes to keep it close at hand for any time she might want to pick it up. With all this in mind, I went into it rather optimistically.
The book starts out in the 50s. Belinda is a very young, naive girl from Indianapolis who goes to LA in search of her one true love--James Dean. She visits studio after studio trying to get an acting gig so she could be a part of the movie world. She is glamored by any big named actor in the biz. One day she sees her beloved Jimmy in a drug store. It's rather uneventful, but at least she saw him, right? Since he dies just a few days after Belinda saw him, she thanks her lucky stars that the brief meeting occurred at all. But now that Jimmy's gone, she is a little lost in what to do with herself. By chance she meets a past-his-peak Errol Flynn, has a very brief affair with him, and is cast by the wayside. She finds out she's pregnant, but Flynn has moved on. Belinda quickly catches the attention of Flynn's French friend and gets him to marry her.
This girl is all about drama. Thankfully, most of the story is not about her, but her daughter, Fleur. Her "father" discovers how unconnected he really is with Fleur and has her sent to a French nunnery as soon as she's born. Belinda gets to visit Fleur for one vacation a year. When Fleur is in her early teens, she feels tall, lanky, and ugly with the wide features she has inherited from the father she knows nothing about. Belinda sees a tall, beautiful blond with a tremendous amount of potential. While on one of their vacations, they meet a photographer Belinda knew from her Hollywood past. The test shots she takes of Fleur are just the beginning of her star-filled career as a model and actress.
In Fleur's first film, she is paired up with an older famous actor, Jake, who has done a ton of westerns and won a Pulitzer Prize for his first play. Once she meets her love interest, the story goes up and down as I assume most romances do. Does the mother try to have an affair with Jake? Yes. Does the step-father try to have an affair with his "daughter"? Yes. Are there misunderstandings and confusion galore? Of course!
I enjoyed this book, but I think this will most likely be the only time I read it. In the 50s scenes, Phillips is a bit heavy with the name tossing. I studied theatre and television in college, so I had an understanding of the backstage workings of productions. I think it's funny how Phillips illustrates this showbiz mom going a bit far when she deifies anyone with a big name in the business. Belinda is the ultimate fan who believes no big name can do wrong. It's their right to do what (and whom) they like. Her daughter is so far the polar opposite. She's modest, down to earth, and doesn't want the attention she gets. Fleur's solid character saved me from all the drama thrown in at every possible turn. It was a good, fast, and entertaining romance.