REVIEW: CLOSE UP BY KATE FORSTER

CLOSE UP

Author: Kate Forster
Michael Joseph RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan

Book Cover:  Close UpDo you feel uncomfortable when people stand too close? Zoom in too close with a camera? When others get too close, whether physically or mentally, it can cause discomfort for most of us. Why? We don’t like others to see our flaws, be they physical like wrinkles, grey hairs, or mental, like secrets, true thoughts and so on. So we mask our flaws in whatever way suits us, and to whatever degree we feel we need to, in order to create an image of perfection. This illusion gets past some, but not all. The ‘close up’ theme is highlighted in Kate Forster’s latest novel Close Up, a light and fast-paced read set in Hollywood. It’s pure chick-lit escapism, but underlying is the question, “Why do we feel the need to be perfect?”.

Three women in Hollywood are all searching for something. Zoe Greene manages the careers of Hollywood’s biggest stars. She’s worked hard to get where she is (and to get her clients where they are), and now she’s ready to go further. She wants to be the executive producer of a new film, Art of Love, based on a heart-breaking memoir about a man who nursed his wife through a terminal illness. The role of Simone, the wife, is the role of a lifetime and every actress wants her shot. One of these is Maggie Hall, America’s sweetheart for nearly twenty years, and Zoe’s best friend, but the higher-ups and writer feel that thirty-something Maggie is too old for the role. It’s not something Zoe wants to break to her friend, who is already struggling with ageing. Hollywood isn’t exactly kind to those who choose to age gracefully. Finally, there is Dylan, almost 19, and in town not to be an actress … no, she just wants to find her birth mother. All three women are swept up in the search for the perfect Simone.

Secrets, illusions, ambition, desire, love and a glamorous Hollywood setting combine to create a glitzy, beachy, time-out read. There’s plenty of romance, though it’s not a steamy read, and the story moves along quickly, keeping the reader in light suspense about Dylan’s birth mother. The ending is a bit fairytale (for example, the easy acceptance of the birth mother’s reason for not claiming back her daughter and avoiding the issue of how Maggie’s love interest’s alcoholism will impact on their relationship), however, it is “Hollywood” and the happy-ever-after-no-matter-what is supposed to prevail. If pure escapism is what you’re after, then Close Up should be just the ticket.

Available from good bookstores and Penguin Australia. This copy was courtesy of Penguin.

Bookish treat: It was hot, so I treated myself to a blueberry and vanilla flavoured iced tea. Surprisingly good.