Saturday, 8 February 2014
Review: A Hollywood Ending by Robyn Sisman
This novel is a story of two parts, not only in terms of structure but also in terms of writing. The first half of the book, set in L.A, I found myself struggling to get through. The main character, Hollywood actress Paige Carson, is purposely presented as self-righteous and arrogant, but it's exaggerated to the point where I had no sympathy whatsoever for her situation and almost gave up on the book altogether. The plot focuses on Paige as her picture perfect Hollywood life starts to crumble and she flees to tread the boards on an English stage in the hope of a fresh start. Given her bad attitude, I couldn't help but feel that she deserved everything that happened to her, and I was interested to see how, if at all, she would redeem herself.
The one thing that this section of the novel did achieve was that it made me wonder whether any actors in the business today act that way behind closed doors, whether anything we see of them is real or whether they are as manipulated and manufactured as the films that they star in.
The second half of the book felt to me like a completely different novel. The introduction of Ed Hawkshead, a documentary maker struggling to make a living in London, brought the novel to life, particularly the sections told through his eyes. I still found it difficult to empathise with Paige, but I loved Ed. The men in England are "less Hugh Grant and more Heathcliff" says the blurb, but Ed is definitely more of a Mr Darcy (or Mark Darcy, whichever you prefer), stereotypically standoffish until you get to know him - "a pompous idiot" as he refers to himself at one point. I also enjoyed the scenes set in Ed's home in the Lake District; it is a place close to my heart too and only made me like Ed even more. So Ed and Paige meet and the inevitable love story unfolds, culminating in a declaration of love straight out of a Richard Curtis film. The ending however left many questions unanswered: what would happen once Paige's theatre stint ended and she went back to America? And what about Ed's TV company? I'm a fan of the old fashioned 'happily ever after', but in this instance it felt like more of a 'happy for now.'
I picked up A Hollywood Ending as it looked like an easy read and an interesting story, and in this regard I was not disappointed. Looking at the novel as a whole, I would recommend it to fans of romantic fiction; just be prepared for a slow starter.
3.5 stars: 3 stars for the first half of the novel, 4 stars for the second. An engaging read that will please romantics and rom-com fans alike.