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Helen Redford was once a famous soap star but in recent years she has faded from the public eye. Because of this, when she is invited to take part in the TV series 'Roots', her agent is keen for her to accept. However, this means revisiting the town where she grew up and digging into her past, which would all be very well if there were not people and events that Helen would prefer stay forgotten.
When Helen Redford is approached to take part in the TV series, 'Roots', she is a little reluctant. 'Roots' is similar to the BBC's 'Who Do You Think You Are?' series where celebrities trace their ancestors. Even though the producers assure her that everything will be handled sensitively and they will not show anything that she is unhappy with, she is not sure that it is something she want to take part in. She has moved on from many things and does not want to be reminded of ex-boyfriends, friendships that have turned acrimonious and family secrets. However, she is persuaded to do it and somewhere, lurking at the back of her mind, is the hope that the series will reunite her with her mum who walked out when she was only a small child. What she does not realise is that the programme makers have a totally different reunion in mind - one that will leave her shocked and confused. It's a trip down memory lane that she will soon want to forget.
This is a wonderful tale that I found myself caught up in from the very first pages. I loved finding out about Helen's life and I liked the way that alternate chapters switched between the present and the past. The author cleverly reveals things that occurred in the past that the reader knows will be picked up by the television crew in following chapters. This style worked very well for me and certainly helped to keep my interest throughout.
I thought the characters were all excellent especially Helen, who I expected to be a shallow and vain TV star, but was actually a well rounded sympathetic character. She never sought to live her life in the public eye and is quite horrified at the intrusive lengths that the 'Roots' production team will go to in order to get a good story. This story definitely makes the reader think twice about these types of reality shows and whether what they choose to present to the viewer is the truth or a rather nasty distortion.
This book is very well written and the pace is good too. It is the sort of book that I just couldn't bring myself to put down. In fact I read it in just a couple of days and could have happily carried on reading more.
When I started reading the book, I thought that Sue Welfare was a new author for me but I have since found out that she also writes under the name of Kate Lawson - an author I have enjoyed for some time now - as well as the name of Gemma Fox. Therefore if you have read books by either of these, you will definitely want to read 'One Night Only'.
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk
Fame and fortune can't hide the secrets of her past... When fading soap star, Helen Redford, goes back to her old home town to make a TV show about her glittering career she catches a glimpse of the might-have-beens that drove her to leave in the first place. Ex boy friends, old scores to settle, friendships gone sour, chances not taken,and secrets about Helen's family that have haunted her since she was a little girl. Will Helen be able to put her past to rest?
This is the second of Sue Welfare's books I have read, the first having been The Surprise Party which was released in 2011, a book I found to be a delightful read. I was luckily sent a copy of One Night Only for review from Sue's publishers, and was really looking forward to delving in. The idea of a story about a celebrity going into their past sounded like an interesting one, and I wondered where Sue would be able to take the concept. While I have to confess to not being madly keen on the cover which is a little bit too similar to The Surprise Party if you ask me, I hope that like me people choose to not judge this book by the cover because its a wonderful story that I really couldn't put down!
I really loved the main character of Helen. The book really in entirely about her so its important that as readers we can like her and warm to her, and I feel like Sue has created a warm and realistic character, who even though she is a celebrity, she seems real and like a really nice person. Her career is on the wane a little bit, so when she's approached to be on TV show 'Roots', she decides its worth a go. Her agent and ex-husband Arthur urges her to, and boyfriend Bo is supportive as well. I liked that Helen was really unsure about the show and didn't just jump in for the money as we might assume that she would, but instead she took the time to think about it and the positive and negative things about it too. Helen was just a great character to read about, and I enjoyed reading her story.
The idea of the TV show within the book sounds loosely based on shows such as "Who Do You Think You Are" which features real celebs and their past lives. Roots more chooses to look at the person's present day and their own story rather than their ancestors, and this allows Welfare to delve in Helen's past and present a totally different character to us. As well as the modern day chapters where we see Helen filming the show and the secrets being revealed, there are alternate chapters which go back to Helen as a young school girl, with best friend Kate being a singing double act at a local talent show, and how things progress for them from there. It mainly focuses on the one night of the show, and then Helen's discovery of fame and her agent shortly after that. I enjoyed very much how the book flitted between the two time periods of Helen's life, and it kept the narrative fresh, and me interested in the book.
Some of the storylines are bit seedy, involving Kate and 2 "agents" that the girl's meet backstage at their gig, but I think it's a very real issue and certainly something that must happen up and down the country unfortunately. I also liked the storyline of Helen's mother and how she disappeared when Helen was a young girl, leaving her to be brought up by her father. It wasn't an overly soppy and emotional tale, yet was told matter of factly, and you could see how Helen, even now as an adult, is deeply affected by her loss and not knowing what happened to her mother. All of these brought together created a really deep and insightful book, that had me giggling in places and crying in others. You really want everything to work out for Helen, and for her to have a good time on the TV show, and not be too upset by certain revelations that come forward in the book.
Overall, I thought this was a brilliant read that will have people hooked from the first page until the very last. Welfare has created a really great leading lady in Helen, and the other characters within the book are really well written and fit perfectly into the story as well. I especially liked how the friendship between Helen and Kate are written, very reminiscent of teenage relationships for a lot of people I suspect. I found that the two stories of modern day Helen and school girl Helen made for great reading, and I really liked seeing why Helen was how she is today, and how her past has shaped her future. It's a really interesting look not only at how a TV show like this is made, but the impact it has on the people who are the subject of it as well, which I really enjoyed reading about. I loved every page of this book, and while it may not have the best cover in the world, the story inside is fantastic, and I highly recommend that you read this book!
ISBN: 978-1847561190. Published by Avon on 1st March 2012. Pages: 400. RRP: £6.99. Also available as an eBook.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitchloe.blogspot.com
Thank you for reading.