W is for Wendy Holden


Wendy Holden used to write for Tatler. That is basically, all you need to know.

Not really, I will discuss her book as well. Fame Fatale is about two women, Grace Armiger and Belinda Black. Grace is an unassuming, hard working PR girl for a failing but honest publisher. Belinda is a scheming, manipulative tabloid hack whose only goal in life is to snare herself a rich husband, preferably from the pages of the Tatler’s Little Black Book. Quelle Surprise.  On a side note, I’ve just wikipedia’d Tatler and their list of past editors is made more interesting with the inclusion of a list of why they stopped being editors – one of them was killed by a train, while another died ‘in office’… Intriguing.

It’s a fairly tired tale of how the villain will finish last and end up with no job, no boyfriend and a leg in plaster because she Wanted Things Too Much. It’s much better, and much classier, to behave like Grace, and not really know what you want. According to this, anyway.

Perhaps that is a bit flip, as Belinda Black is quite clearly a shrieking harpy who thinks nothing of flashing her cleavage at men to get what she wants. Added to that, she’s not a very good journalist. She’s so intent on catching her titled husband that she misses huge scoops of stories and manages to destroy a column thirty years in the making, in a matter of weeks.

Grace, on the other hand, is too concerned with her busy but rewarding job at the crumbling publishers to worry about anything beyond getting rid of her no good boyfriend Sion (who, in an amazing twist of fate, is sleeping with Belinda Black). She doesn’t even have time to see the cute and very rich and very single man who wants to woo her, or the fact that the gentleman her mother has invited to Tea is in fact the owner of a multi armed film/book/art/music corporation, and she’s just told him everything he needs to know about the poor management in her publishing house. For Grace, this all works out happily. The media mogul promptly buys out the publishing house and then tidies it up a bit, leaving them to do what they’ve always done (i.e. Integrity) but with the added insurance of having a job. And a clean office.  Not only does Grace have a job, but she winds up looking after the Hottest Actor in the World ™. Which is supposed to be Russell Crowe but isn’t, as Russell Crowe’s in the book. So perhaps it’s Gerard Butler.

That brings me to the other gripe I have about these kinds of books, set in the showbiz world of books and celebrity. There are real people, there are made up names for obviously real people, and then there are the fake people made from all of the nasty bits of people the author’s come across. It’s very confusing. Although there was a nice recurring joke about Louis de Bernieres being stepped on a lot, which I hope was meant literally and not metaphorically.

Okay, so you know what happens, mainly because I already told you. If you want a trashy beach read, go for something else. Joan Collins, Marian Keyes, even Sophie Kinsella. There are a thousand trashy novels like this, where you can see the end coming from the second page, so when it finally limps past all you can do is breathe a sigh of relief. Sorry Wendy, but I think you may have done better as a journo at the flashy parties for Tatler.


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