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Straight to the point
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Film directer and producer Dorian Rasmirez used most of his own money to finance his previous movie, which turned out to be a box office flop. His new film is a remake of Wuthering Heights and if he fails to make it a success his career will be over and he'll drown in his debts. So he needs great leads and stunning locations.
Dorian has decided that his Heathcliff will be English actor Viorel Hudson and gives him a huge chunk of the film's budget in payment. Viorel is handsome and charming, but he has never played a lead role in a big budget film, so will he be able to pull a captivating performance out of the bag and draw in the crowds?
It's not going to be an easy task for either Dorian or Viorel as Cathy will be played by Sabrina Leon. Fresh out of rehab Sabrina's reputation has been left in shreds and she is now desperate for a fresh start career-wise, so she immediately plans on seducing Viorel to get him onto her good side - for the length of filming anyway.
Dorian has only signed Sabrina because she'll work on Wuthering Heights for free and his producer wants a pretty and reqonisible face on screen [and someone who'll do any possible nude scenes without a fuss], so Dorian is not going to give her an easy ride on set.
Will Sabrina's unstable behaviour and temper ruin things for her, Viorel, Dorian, or all of them?
Meanwhile care-worker Tish Crewe has temporarily returned from Romania to her family home in England, with her five year old adopted son Abel, to sort out her brother's latest mess. Her family home is a beautiful estate in the Lake District called Loxley, but it is in disrepair and is burning money. Tish's brother is the one who has inherited the estate, but as he is off on his latest spiritual retreat Tish is the one who has been left to try to rescue her late father's pride and joy.
Luckily for Tish a way for Loxley to raise money soon presents itself; a film company wants to hire Loxley and use it as Thrushcross Grange for a remake of Wuthering Heights. At first Tish isn't convinced, but the film scout discovers that there is a farmhouse attached to Loxley and excitedly doubles the fee of the offer to Tish, so she can't say no.
Back in Hollywood fellow film directer Harry Greene - who wrongly believes that Dorian wrecked his marriage - has now made it his personal mission to destroy Dorian both professionally and personally. Completely paranoid -perhaps borderline insane - Harry is keeping an eye over the production of Wuthering Heights and is just waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike...
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Is it worth a read?
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Dorian Rasmirez is well known for his 'fairy tale' marriage to former sitcom star Chrissie Sanderson and the couple have a three year old daughter; Saskia. But behind the tabloids the couple are anything but happy - Chrissie unfairly blames Dorian for her failure to achieve a long term career. She is also very insecure and it's an open secret that she sleeps around.
Poor Dorian is totally in love with his wife however and not only is there the stress of Wuthering Heights, the attitudes of the cast and the threat of Harry Greene, but he also has to handle Chrissie's volatile moods and selfish behaviour.
Meanwhile poor Saskia has closer bonds with her nannies, as both parents are too wrapped up in their own lives and problems.
Handsome Viorel Hudson was adopted from Romania as a child by a Tory MP, in a move that was made for headlines, as opposed to her actually wanting a child. He grew up in a boarding school because his parents had no interest in raising him, before heading to Hollywood as a detached adult - the home of the clinger-onners.
I can't really think of much to say about Viorel, he's not a cardboard cutout of a character, but compared to Dorian and Sabrina, he doesn't really stand out too much. He has never had familial love or friends, so doesn't seem to know how to behave around people. He is a nice enough guy, but there are times where he can be thoughtless and his ego makes me roll my eyes.
My favourite character here is Sabrina; she is so complex, sometimes I want to hug her and other times she is asking for a slap. She has just completed rehab after drunkenly referring to the producer of her successful movie franchise as a slave driver, which has somehow mutated in translation in the press, and has now left her branded a racist and unemployable as everyone hates her guts.
She's not racist and we soon learn about her horrendous childhood, so we all know that her me-me-me attitude is an act and all down to her being scared and confused - but it is a challenge to remember that when she's at her worst.
But the fact that I wanted to see if Sabrina gets an happily ever after - and see if Chrissie ever gets her just desserts - is the primary reason that I kept turning the pages of FAME.
I don't often read these types of stories as I find them too predictable, but this time when I paired characters together I got it wrong - a first. I loved how there is no clear 'good guys', but whenever someone is acting out we can see why they're behaving that way - there are no caricatures of Hollywood 'players' here.
Well, apart from Harry Greene and since his character stops a few chapters in the final third of the book from becoming dull, I'm happy to overlook how melodramatic and cartoonish he can be.
The raw, sexual beauty of Sabrina Leon demands the attention of all who come into contact with her. Plucked from obscurity at the age of seventeen she's the new darling of the film scene, bagging lead roles in the hottest blockbusters. But Sabrina Leon has a problem. There's a youtube sensation on the web that's set to destroy everything she's fought for... Hotshot movie producer Dorian Razmirez has struggles of his own. A bitter feud with rival producer and playboy, Harry Greene, has resulted in the plug being pulled on every project he goes near. Casting the disgraced Hollywood diva Sabrina Leon in Wuthering Heights is a risk that might cost him what remains of his career. Viorel Hudson, with his jet-black hair, high, slanting cheekbones and smooth, coffee coloured skin, was always destined for great things. Now he's scored a role that every A-lister in Hollywood auditioned for - Heathcliff in Dorian Razmirez's Wuthering Heights. He may be at the height of his career, but is he ready for his latest role? For a five million pound pay cheque, it's a risk he's willing to take. Set against a backdrop of a sumptuous crumbling English country house, the film-set of Wuthering Heights is going to be as salacious as the setting is beautiful.
I've heard lots about Tilly Bagshawe, her sister is Louise who also writes Chick Lit novels, and she has quite a few fans. However, I generally don't like the big blockbuster novels because usually there's just so much going on that there needs to be a cast list at the start of all of the books! However during 2011, I've been getting into them more and more - Hollywood Sinners by Victoria Fox, the upcoming The Strip by JJ Salem, Daddy's Girls by Tasmina Perry and I've found them to be wonderfully exotic novels that allow me to fully immerse myself in the fiction. So when I received Fame earlier in the week, I was thrilled. I thought it sounded brilliant and where else to start with my first Tilly Bagshawe novel than with her latest book? Let me tell you, I bloomin' loved it.
Fame is a rather massive novel, coming in at just under 500 pages, but let me tell you, every single page is worthy of being in this novel. I absolutely breezed through the novel, and if I'm honest, I am kind of surprised at how much I loved the book. I thought the plot was fantastic, the suspense is there right from the first page as the Prologue of the novel begins at the Oscars ceremony before spooling back to right before Dorian Rasmirez's adaptation of Wuthering Heights is even filmed. We're slowly introduced to all the players in the novel. There's Sabrina Lyon, a wildly talented actress who's a bit of a wild child; Viorel Hudson, saved from a life of poverty in Romania by his 'saint' of a mother; Tish Crewe, who runs an orphanage in Romania and whose father owns Loxley House; Dorian Rasmirez, the director of the Wuthering Heights remake and then there's Harry Greene, Dorian's huge rival, who's desperate to take Dorian down! Those are the main characters in the novel, although there are plenty others like Tish's son, Abel, Dorian's wife and daughter, and other characters like that.
I must admit, every time I read a novel like this, with so much going on and so many characters I feel as if I'm going to hate the characters. And then I'm surprised when, actually, I like them. Because most of them are actors (or in Dorian's case a director), they're obviously not like you and me. Because they're rich! And famous! And beautiful! And although Sabrina, Viorel and Dorian are all of those things, Bagshawe writes them in such a way that although they have many faults, they are human beings. And although I didn't agree with much of what they did, I found myself liking them anyway, despite myself. They're all very larger than life, but they are all presented in such a way that people like us, when reading the novel, can sympathise with them rather than hate them for being ungrateful rich people. Tish is probably the most normal of the characters and I found myself entranced by her story. I loved her son, Abel, he was such a cute little character. As the novel neared its conclusion, I found myself rooting for them all to get their happy endings. I generally don't expect love stories in books like this, but there were some brilliant ones during Fame!
Fame is set in Derbyshire, LA and Romania and Tilly has undoubtedly done a lot of research into all of the areas. The glitz and glamour of LA compared to the stark and poor Romania was shocking and eye-opening. I've never read a novel set in Romania before, and I found it fascinating learning all about the children who are orphaned or put into care or are in need of Tish's help. It did rather put into perspective just how grateful the famous people should be to be so rich and well cared for. I thought the setting in Derbyshire was amazing. I absolutely loved every page that was set in the Crewe's ancestral home Loxley Hall. I could imagine the filming playing out really easily, with the brooding fog and wide expanses of land and the crumbling family pile. I could see Sabrina and Viorel in their costumes as they filmed. Many a time, you don't get a feel for a novel's location, but in Fame you really do. Tilly mentions in her acknowledgement that she and her husband run a charity named FRODO to help young Romanian children and her passion for that runs clear during those scenes in Romania. The book is even dedicated to two children she met (Abel and Viorel) and I think that is one of the sweetest things ever, it really puts your in life into perspective when you're able to learn about somebody who has a much worse life than yours.
This book blew me away. Tilly's ability to spin a wonderful novel are in abundance here and I just kept turning the pages, wanting to read more, more, more. It is definitely a novel people will be taking on their holidays this year, because it is indeed a definitive beach read. It seems wrong to call it a beach read, actually, because yes you can read it on a beach but it's not a trashy novel at all. I honestly have no complaints at all about the novel, I loved the characters (most of the time, anyway), I thought the locations were perfect, and the writing was superb. Tilly wipes the floor with most writers out there, her prose is just immense. I will be eagerly buying up Tilly's previous novels and I will be eagerly awaiting her next read. I can see why she's so popular, it's hard to have a story that flows brilliantly from beginning to end, but Fame does that and it does it easily. The pages just whoosh by and I was sad to see it finish, although the finish was superb, too. I am a total sucker for happy endings and anyone else who loves happy ending will be more than satisfied with Fame. It has it all, it really does.