Friday Book Whimsy: Pretty as a Picture

Marissa Dahl is a talented movie editor. Her OCD personality and her devotion to motion pictures makes her particularly good at her job. She is asked to edit a movie being directed by a well-known and well-respected director who is also known to be difficult and extremely demanding. Still, the picture is being filmed on a small island off the coast of Delaware, which makes it intriguing but also frightening given her OCD personality.

I’m not a movie buff. I do, however, like movies. I have enjoyed going to the movies my whole life. And I’ve always been drawn to books that deal with the movie industry, particularly historical novels based on real actors. Pretty as a Picture, a new novel by Elizabeth Little, looks at the movie business from a bit of a different angle, namely the behind the camera aspect.

The film is based on an unsolved murder that took place on the island. Even more troubling is the fact that she is replacing a person who was fired by the demanding director for reasons unknown to her or anyone else.

When she arrives, she learns that things are not going well at the movie production studio and people are frightened. There have been strange accidents and many people besides her predecessor have been fired. She also learns that she is being guarded by a handsome former military man, and has no idea why she needs security.

Details are revealed as the book moves along, making readers wonder if the person responsible for the unsolved murder might still be around and unhappy that the film is being made.

I found the book amusing and interesting. Marissa’s character is cynical and sarcastic and funny and perhaps a bit autistic, making her an interesting character. She made me laugh out loud on several occasions. Also, throughout the book, she drops lines from famous movies, and it was fun for me to try and recall from which movie I had heard the line.

All-in-all, I found the book highly satisfying and readable.

Here is a link to the book.

Friday Book Whimsy: Dear Daughter

searchIt seems like every day I come across a new mystery/suspense/thriller novel that purports to be “the next Gone Girl.” Clearly, Gone Girl is the book that authors want to write (and readers want to read). Having found Gone Girl to be one of the most satisfying thrillers (in an oddly unsatisfying way) I have ever read, I must admit that I, too, am looking for the next Gone Girl.

I’m not going to go so far as to say that Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little is on equal footing with Gillian Flynn’s amazing novel-with-the-twisted-ending, but man, the book did hold my attention, and the only thing that prevented me from throwing the book against the wall (as I did when I finished Gone Girl) was the fact that I was reading on my iPad. It wouldn’t survive the toss.

Jane Jenkins is a Kim Kardashian-type Hollywood celebrity, famous only for being the daughter of a well-known actress. Well, famous for only that up until the time that she is tried and convicted of murdering her mother, a crime she’s pretty sure she didn’t commit. I say pretty sure because there were a lot of drugs and alcohol in her life. Ten years after being imprisoned, she is released on a technicality, and sets out to find out who did, in fact, kill her mother (if it wasn’t her).

Through a bit of sleuthing (and some unbelievable coincidences), she is able to find out where her mother grew up and learns things she wouldn’t have dreamed about her mother’s life as a young woman. In the meantime, she is trying to hide from the paparazzi who are endlessly trying to find out where she went following her release. The public, you see, still think she’s guilty.

Little’s writing is sharp, perhaps a bit too sharp. Jane goes through life mouthing nothing but quips. Much of the writing is clever, but it went a bit too far. I think Little’s character development was good, and I got a great feel for who Jane is and the frustrations she felt both currently and while growing up the child of a celebrity who is famous ONLY for being the child of a celebrity.

There are a few too many coincidences to lead me to unequivocally recommend the book. Still, the story was compelling and I couldn’t stop reading, wanting to find out who actually murdered her mother. And the ending – boy oh boy. That’s all I’ll say.

Despite its flaws, I highly recommend the book (gosh, I can’t believe I’m saying this) for anyone who liked the book Gone Girl.

Here is a link to the book.