A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
I was supposed to be reading Ten Days that Shook the World . I was also, however, in the middle of moving house whilst simultaneously trying to arrange an autumn fundraising fair. Sorting out my Menshiviki from my Bolsheviki and my Soviets from my Dumas was just more than I could cope with at the end of a long day spent grappling with bubblewrap, parcel tape and elusive folk singers. What I needed, I realized, was something entertaining and lightweight that didn’t require fierce concentration but at the same time wasn’t going to cause any of my neurons to shrivel up and die.
What I needed, in fact, was the Kate Lace novel that had been on my ‘to read’ pile for an unconscionably long time. I’d read and thoroughly enjoyed her previous book, The Chalet Girl, so I knew I was on pretty safe ground unless she’d had a disastrous failure of form.
With a glad cry (or at least a pathetically grateful whimper), I tossed the Russian Revolution aside and immersed myself in a good, old-fashioned piece of escapism.
Gemma lands her dream job of wardrobe assistant with a film company, and is soon measuring up and kitting out one of the world’s most desirable male film stars, the decidedly fit and undeniably scenic Jono Knighton. Romance, of course, blossoms … but the path of true love is complicated by the inconvenient presence of Mrs Knighton, the once famous, ultra-beautiful, but now fading and temperamental Rowan Day.
If I said that The Movie Girl was anything other than formulaic, I’d be lying. You KNOW it’ll all come right in the end. You KNOW that Toxic Tina in the wardrobe department is going to succeed in her nefarious schemes to unseat Gemma. You KNOW that Gemma is going to have to suffer and repine a bit. You KNOW that Jono is going to behave like a dolt (he is a bloke, after all …), but it doesn’t matter. That’s not the point. You don’t read a book like The Movie Girl to have your brain messed with. You read it in order to relax and be entertained and enjoy the warm fuzzies – preferably without feeling you should put a plain brown wrapper on the thing because your little grey cells are going slumming.
Kate Lace has been a successful author for many years now, and it shows in her writing – as does her inside knowledge of the film and TV world. The Movie Girl is a fast-moving story written with a sure hand and peopled with believable, fleshed-out characters. As a bonus, it also offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of the far from glamorous nuts and bolts of film-making. It even comes up with one or two shrewd insights into human nature. I was particularly taken with Jono’s rueful little analysis of how he’d ended up with Rowan in the first place:
Rowan Day in The Good Time Girl. Rowan Day in The Fun-Loving Female. Jono could almost see the neon lights shining out, and he’d bought tickets to the show. That was the trouble with god-damned actors, thought Jono. You never knew when the play was over …
The Movie Girl is, quite simply, a great read. Higher praise than that you will not hear coming from me. Buy it; read it – or alternatively, leave a comment indicating that you’d like a chance to win a freebie copy and I’ll enter you in the draw. Don’t forget to say “Please”. It won’t make any difference, but we do like to maintain certain standards on Vulpes. Two copies are on offer, courtesy of Little Black Dress. The closing date is Saturday, October 25th.
Little Black Dress. 2008. ISBN: 978-0-7553-3833-7. 308pp.