First things first. I know I shouldn't judge a book by the cover, but that doesn't mean I can't judge the cover, right? I am grateful that Sourcebooks sent me this book, but I don't think the cover would have attracted my attention in a book store. I actually like the original cover, the UK edition, better (below right). The pink and blue poke fun at the content, which I'm sure is on purpose, but unless you've read the book, you're not going to understand the irony. The US cover doesn't do Beautiful People justice. Now for the good stuff!
Beautiful People is the story of two actresses, each vastly opposite from the other, two equally opposite men, and two drastically different nannies -- all colliding in this light, fun story of movies sets, relationships, fad diets, and day care.
Darcy Prince is a London-born serious actress whose integrity and art form are properly secure. She comes from a family of serious actors, lives in a flat and gets by on her minimal theater wages. Niall, also known as Grahm MacDonald, is her insecure British actor-boyfriend, who criticizes her trip to Los Angeles to meet with a famous Hollywood director. Serious actors don't go to Hollywood, they suffer on the stages of London and New York!
Belle Murphy, on the other hand, is a plastic Hollywood actress, whose fortune was made by good DPs and plastic surgery. Her career is spiraling down the tubes, and her tabloid presence has her falling toward the gutter reminiscent of Lindsay Lohan or Brittany Spears. In other words, she is the kind of celebrity you love to hate, and you hate to look away from.
Surrounding these two characters is a cast of many, but few we actually like. Don't worry, it's clear upon first meeting which are the "good guys" and which are the "bad guys". Holden gives us Hollywood, London, and finally, Tuscany, where all the actors, and company, come together to film a big budget film called Galaxia (it's ok to giggle).
There's sex, drugs, scandals, and even an exercise thinstructor to the stars. We certainly do love to hate the cliché beautiful people, who are ugly on the inside, and love to love the so-called ugly people, who are beautiful on the inside. I guess the only exception to that rule is Orlando, who is a beautiful boy whom everyone wants a piece of - for a magazine, a photo shoot, a film, a romp - but all he wants is a humble life with a nice girl (cue the "Awww"). It is satisfying to finally read a book where the good people are rewarded and the ugly people are given their just deserts.
I only had one problem with the book. First chapter, first page, we meet Sam Sherman, head of the Wild Modeling Agency. Strangely, she is forgotten until Chapter 27, Page 191. I found it strange to spend so much time introducing a character in the beginning of a book who doesn't mean much to the development of the story as a whole and is a loose end at the end of the novel. I'll get over it, but Sam left me scratching my head.
This is the kind of book that one should be reading on a beach somewhere (not during the middle of a snow storm in New Jersey, as I had read it). It's a light read, full of ridiculous characters and impossible plots, and chuckle-worthy at times. Beautiful People is not your serious winter novel, I can assure you, but one you should throw in your beach bag.
Monday, April 26th, Wendy Holden will be stopping by Alison's Book Marks for an interview. So tune in Monday!
*FTC Statement: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.
About the Book:
Beautiful People by Wendy Holden
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (April 1, 2010)