HOW TO BE FAMOUS by Alison Bond


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A tale of three young women making their way through the perils of Hollywood.

Lynsey Dixon is answering phones at a London talent agency when her career takes a turn for the fabulous. Her new gig is in LA, where she will be the personal assistant to Melanie Chaplin, a talented British actress who’s set to star on a hot TV series. Seeing America by bus en route to California, Lynsey meets toothsome runaway Serena Simon, also on her way to la-la-land, where she hopes to turn her drop-dead looks into stardom. Driven by their dreams, enveloped by the amoral Hollywood ethos, and subject to shocking reversals, Lynsey, Serena, and Melanie soon discover that fame isn’t quite what they expected. (Imagine the shock.) Misleadingly marketed as chick-lit, Bond’s first is soap-operatic rather than effervescent, earnest instead of cheeky; it’s miles from Helen Fielding or Sophie Kinsella, closer in spirit to the work of E. Lynn Harris and Jackie Collins. Unfortunately, it lacks Harris’s sass and Collins’s outré ostentation, though Bond certainly shares their tendency to tell instead of show. Clearly, she knows her characters—their childhood traumas, their romantic weaknesses, their secret insecurities—but rather than creating circumstances that allow them to reveal themselves through words and actions, she lays bare their inner lives in chunks of exposition. Myriad plot twists and turns may keep readers wondering what happens next, but that’s about all they’ll wonder. Given the author’s bona fides as a show-business insider (she worked in the film industry for seven years), the lack of juicy dish and exclusive insights is particularly disappointing. Indeed, Bond occasionally seems bizarrely misinformed. Are we expected to believe that a woman nominated for a best-actress Oscar has to pay for her own awards-ceremony outfit?

An object lesson in how not to write fiction.

Pub Date: April 5th, 2005
ISBN: 0-451-21461-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: NAL/Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2005


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