#BookReview: Love & Fame by Susie Boyt @SusieBoyt @ViragoBooks @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours #Loveandfame

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About the Book

Susie Boyt’s sixth novel is the story of the first year of a marriage. Eve a nervous young actress from a powerful theatrical dynasty has found herself married to an international expert on anxiety called Jim. Could it work? Should it work? Must the show always go on? This is a highly-strung comedy about love, fame, grief, showbusiness and the depths of the gutter press. Its witty and sincere tone – familiar to fans of Susie’s newspaper column – will delight and unnerve in equal measure.

 

My Thoughts

I have to be honest and say that I didn’t really know what this book was about when I was offered a copy, but actually I’m quite glad that I didn’t. I try and avoid books about grief and loss at this time of year but reading Love & Fame recently and finding it such a brilliant and cathartic novel has taught me that I need to be more open-minded.

Love & Fame follows people from two different families. The first is Eve, a very highly-strung actress who is struggling to find her place in the world. The second follows twin sisters Beatrice and Rebecca, who are very different from each other but also very dependent on each other.

The opening of this book sees Eve packing for her honeymoon and the way her anxiety is presented on the page was so true to how anxiety really is that it had my own heart racing at the amount of thoughts running through her head. I’ve suffered very badly with anxiety in my life and this is the first time that I’ve read a novel that truly conveys what it feels like. There is a moment later in the book that struck such a chord with me that I had to briefly stop reading, it really brought it home to me that not everyone feels like this. I could really identify with Eve’s anxiety – the way sometimes something causes it and other times it’s just lingering there waiting to catch you out when you think you’re doing okay.

‘What made you think of that?’ he would say. ‘I don’t know.’ she would smile. ‘You know how I’m always thinking about everything.’ ‘How do you mean?’ ‘Well, all the things I’ve ever said, all the things that have ever been said to me and everything I’ve seen and thought and felt in my life and it all sort of whirls around in my head all day long, and often through the night and it’s constantly going. It’s probably the same for everybody.’ ‘Maybe,’ he said.

Eve has married a man who is writing a book about anxiety and this a huge source of panic to Eve. There is black humour in her panic but I could really identify with her and found myself giggling at how ridiculous it all can be, and how aware of the ridiculousness one can be, and yet still the anxious thoughts won’t stop. While on honeymoon Eve gets the devastating news that her beloved father has died, and this sends her into such a tailspin. Grief and anxiety make for a really messed up time.

‘I suppose in a way you are in the loss adjustment business,’ Rebecca said. ‘A listening loss lessener.’

Alongside this we meet Beatrice and Rebecca. They lost their mum twenty years ago when they were young children and have dealt with it in very different ways. Beatrice has become a therapist specialising in treating grieving children, but Rebecca has remained stuck in her grief. It’s manifested in control over her eating and she cannot bring herself to even try and move through the grief, she wears it like a jumper. In some ways neither of the women have fully allowed themselves to heal from the grief, it lingers in the background of their relationship.

‘People wanted you to be upset when bad things happened in life, but if you got too upset they couldn’t take it, she thought. You’re a failure. You’re disgusting. Sometimes the window of what was acceptable, when it came to mourning, was so small.’

Love & Fame is a real slice of life. Eve attempting to follow in the footsteps of her successful acting father but her then becoming so paralysed by anxiety that she can’t do it is so believable. It’s the essence of being human that we want to be perfect at what we do, especially when people know what our dreams are and are wanting us to succeed but sometimes that becomes a pressure and the cracks begin to form. Losing a parent that you’re close to is something that changes you so completely and makes you see everything in a different light. As heartbreaking as it is it can be the catalyst for you to re-evaluate life and to find the thing that makes you happy. Eve seemed to be slowly finding her way towards this path and I was rooting for her to get there all the way through this novel.

Boyt has captured the essence of grief so well. She manages to show the pain of it in such an honest way, while also showing how it is broken up by moments of humour in the way others behave towards you. My mum died right before my 30th birthday and one of the most painful things on the day was the birthday cards that had a PS saying ‘sorry for your loss’. It astounded me at the time that people would be so utterly insensitive but now I can see the humourous side – I can just imagine people worrying about what to write and then getting it so wrong! We often don’t handle grief or grieving people very well but harm is generally not meant and Love & Fame captured this so perfectly for me. I highlighted so many passages in this novel, which is something I rarely do and I know this will be a book I go back to again and again.

Love & Fame made me cry, and it made me laugh. I found paragraphs that I had to stop and read again before continuing reading because it is so beautifully written. It’s a quirky, funny novel about anxiety, loss and grief and I absolutely loved it! I will be shouting from the rooftops about this fabulous book; I know this will be in my favourite books of the year so I’m highly recommending it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Random Things Tours. All thoughts are my own.

Love & Fame is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Susie Boyt is the author of five other acclaimed novels and the much-loved memoir My Judy Garland Life which was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley Prize, staged at the Nottingham Playhouse and serialised on BBC Radio 4. She has written about art, life and fashion for the Financial Times for the past fourteen years and has recently edited The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories by Henry James. She is also a director at the Hampstead Theatre.
She lives in London with her family.

 

 

 

 

You can follow the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

Final Love and Fame Blog Tour Poster

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Stacking the Shelves with a brand new #bookhaul (25 Aug 2018)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

It’s been a really busy and chaotic three weeks here so I haven’t done a stacking the shelves in that time. I’ve still been acquiring new books though so here is a haul from the last three weeks!

 

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The Light Between Us by Katie Khan

I was so thrilled to find out that I’d won a giveaway of this book and it made my day when it arrived. It’s a gorgeous hardback, with a crystal and a note from the author. This is a book I will treasure and I can’t wait to read it.

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Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

I’ve been so keen to read this book so I treated myself a couple of weeks ago and I’m hoping to get to read it soon. It feels like it’s going to be one of those books that once I start it I won’t be able to put it down.

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All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew

I pre-ordered this book and I read it in two sittings as soon as it appeared on my kindle. It was such a compelling and devastating read. It’s very well written and it’s a book that is staying with me so I recommend it.

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Dark Pines by Will Dean

I’ve heard so many good things about this book so I finally gave in and bought a copy. I’ve started reading it but it’s been a busy time and I haven’t fully got into it. I’m going to make time to read a chunk of it over the weekend though as I feel sure I will love it.

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Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

I love Liz Nugent’s writing, all her novels have been brilliant so I couldn’t resist buying this new one. I hope to have time to sit and read this one very soon.

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Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner

I was super excited to be invited to be on the blog tour for Ronnie’s debut novel and when I got the NetGalley widget emailed to me this week I immediately downloaded it. I’m really looking forward to reading this!

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Narcissism for Beginners by Martine McDonagh

Hasn’t this book got such a great cover? I was sent a copy of this to review and I’m planning on reading it in the next couple of weeks. It sounds a bit different to my usual reads and I think I’m going to very much enjoy it.

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Love & Fame by Susie Boyt

I jumped at the chance when I was offered a copy of this to review for the blog tour as it sounds like a very me book.

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Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid

I’m so thrilled to have been sent a copy of this book as it sounds like exactly my type of read. I’m really enjoying thrillers at the moment so this definitely won’t be on my TBR for very long at all!

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The Last by Hanna Jameson

I’ve seen this book around on social media and have been so keen to get my hands on a copy of it. It was so exciting when the publicist messaged me to offer me a review copy and I can’t wait to read it!

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Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas

I loved Claire Douglas’ first novel and have now got all her other books on my TBR but couldn’t resist when her new novel was sent to me by the publisher. I think this will be a fast-paced read and I can’t wait to get to it!

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The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo

I was so intrigued by this new edition of The Snowman as I grew up with the picture book and the gorgeous TV adaptation. I’m really interested to see what the experience of reading a new adaptation as a novel will be. I’m saving this to read on a dull afternoon when I can be all cosy with a blanket and just get lost in this book.

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The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

I requested this on NetGalley as the premise really sounds so good! I was thrilled when I got the approval email and I’m so keen to read it. The book’s not out until next year though so I’m going to try and read some more of 2018’s releases before starting this one.

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The Light in the Dark by Horatio Clare

I was delighted to be offered the chance to read this book. It’s a mediation on winter and as soon as I read the blurb it just called to me. I feel like this will be a book that I get a lot out of.

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Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

I squealed when the publisher emailed me about this book as I loved Mindy Mejia’s previous novel The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman (you can read my review here if you’d like to). I actually started reading this late last night and am sure I’ll be finishing it today!

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Histories by Sam Guglani

This book came into my life in a serendipitous way… I’d literally just read a great review of it and knew it was a book that I needed to read and then not two minutes later I saw the publisher offering copies for bloggers to review on twitter! I think this will be a very moving read, but also an important one.

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Inhuman Resources by Pierre LeMaitre

I’ve seen this book on social media and have been having serious envy as I love Pierre LeMaitre’s writing. You can just imagine my sheer joy when this gorgeous hardback arrived on my door mat yesterday! This definitely won’t be on my TBR for long, I can’t wait to read it!

 

Have you got any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves post in the comments! 🙂