The Accidental Socialite – Stephanie Wahlstrom
Thanks to a lovely email from Anna Boatman at Little, Brown explaining about a fabulous new semi-autobiographical book called The Accidental Socialite I knew exactly what my next read was going to be!
Paige is a twenty-two year old Canadian who has just arrived in London for the first time. A chance nightclub encounter with a famous footballer changes her life forever as she is forced to live her life in a frenzy of paps and flash bulbs. Soon everyone knows exactly who Paige Jenkins is. Within the first few pages I read with an intake of breath how her underwear tumbled onto a bustling South West London street as she moves into her new house and I instantly knew this book would be a page turner.
What then follows is Paige’s triumphs and tears; she starts a new job at magazine Fashionista and makes wonderful friends yet gets locked in her bathroom after the door handle falls off and has numerous causalities in her heels, all in the glare of the paparazzi. It’s a glamorous story of growing up, learning who you are and finding your feet – quite literally! It has all the markings of a classic rom com.
The book deals with familiar happenings such as the morning coffee run, crazy housemates and waking up after a heavy night out still in a dress and heels yet Wahlstrom keeps the reader hooked with Made in Chelsea-esque glitz and glamour. Flying to Rome and Paris, dining in posh restuarants and queue jumping at London’s trendiest clubs it’s stuff us mere mortals can only dream of.
I think the fact that I read the book in less than two days speaks volumes – not since I was a teenager reading Jacqueline Wilson’s titles have I read a book that quickly. It was an enthralling read and captured my attention from the beginning. No, it’s not going to change the scope of fiction forever but it perfectly captures our current culture of celebrity, money and image.
For me, it speaks volumes that one accidental kiss with a celebrity can cause photographers to chase you down the street and have your face plastered all over Heat. It made me question what a celebrity even is and what they do – hello Amy Childs and Danielle Lloyd -I’m looking at you. Yes I could probably write a whole essay on this but I feel it’s best not to.
The Accidental Socialite is hilariously written without being too try hard, it’s confessional but not suffocating and it should be the next book you read.
The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau
I love The Tudors – the era, the fashion, even the wives. In contrast I struggle to find any kind of love or connection to religion, so The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau was likely to one of two ways for me.
Joanna Stafford a nun from the Dominican Order escapes her convent to try and defend her Cousin Mary’s honour as she is burned at the stake for treason against King Henry VIII. The consequence of this action takes Joanna on a long and at times often complex journey in a battle between the church and the crown. Initially she is sent to The Tower of London along with her father for attempting to defend her cousin and in exchange for her own freedom and her dear old papa’s she is instructed by the King’s closest confidents to find the much sought for Athelstan crown.
Athelstan was thought to be the first King of England, his crown was deemed to be so powerful to every sovereign after his reign and in Tudor times it was even thought it had the power to end The Reformation.
There are many sub plots in the novel including the murder of Jane Howard’s father as well as stories of Joanna’s royal connections (she was a lady in waiting to Katherine of Aragon). This adds an awful lot of context and colour to the plot but it’s a book you really have to concentrate on.
At times I was often confused with who was related to whom and actively had to remember every single detail Bilyeau describes. This makes you work for the book rather than it being painted clearly and simply, a trait I haven’t encountered in a book for a while. I realise this makes my choices in fiction recently seem somewhat lacking in substance; hence this novel came as a bit of a shock to the system.
I did feel as though The Crown had undertones of The Da Vinci Code due to the quest of finding a much sought after object and the style of context laden writing produced. I had been looking forward to reading The Crown; I first wanted to read The Chalice by Bilyeau before realising it was actually The Crown’s predecessor. Do I now want to read the sequel? Unfortunately I would definitely think twice.
Best Kind of Broken – Chelsea Fine
In the chaos which has engulfed my life recently Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine was a welcome distraction.
The chaos is all for a good cause as I have finally managed to break into the tough world of publishing woohoo! I am soon to start as an Editorial Graduate Trainee at Orion Publishing – I am beyond ecstatic. So in the craziness of trying to find somewhere to live – I might end up living in a cardboard box at this rate – and trying to remember what I need to take from towels to saucepans, Best Kind of Broken gave me the opportunity to kick back and relax.
The book centres around a will they won’t they love story between Pixie and Levi, who were once best friends before one horrific night changes everything. Fine does an excellent job of keeping us guessing what it is that is keeping the pair apart – we don’t find out until the middle of the book. I couldn’t read it fast enough as I was eager to know what it was that had left Pixie and Levi struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives.
The tension Fine creates between the pair is sublime, as they have to not only work together for the summer but they also have to share a bathroom, so there is no escape for the young lovers. The story is forever progressing and changing as one minute they are struggling to keep their hands off each other and the next they aren’t talking for days, which kept the plot fresh.
I read the book on my iPad – that’s right I am finally succumbing to the electronic format, which on a personal level I think will become a regular occurrence for me!
I loved this book, whilst there may not be anything ground breaking about the plot, it’s a brilliant escape read. I felt it had a touch of a Nicholas Sparks’ novel but a smidge racier! I would love to see a screen version of this. Highly recommended.