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3rd August 2015 Book Review – Starstruck by Ruby Preston

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4 stars

I believe my lovely readers that we all love a good drama/soap opera/musical show from the stateside, all those you watch the Nashvilles and the Empires and the Glees yell ‘yay!’ now or forever hold your peace. With my own penchant for watching US shows of this bent and going down to London to watch musicals featured at the West End, when an opportunity to review Starstruck which is written by actual Broadway producer Ruby Preston came my way, I was very, very eager to read and review this to say the least. As per the premise of the book, the reader does learn what goes on behind and in front of the scenes at a Broadway show and also learns the hidden politics, drama and intrigue that occurs when production is under way.

The story follows Scarlett Savoy, a young up and coming producer who is finally launching her play ‘Swan Song’ at Broadway and has hired as her leading lady Hollywood super-diva Bliss, who is an old pro at the Hollywood game but is in over her head as far as the Broadway life is concerned. This is her first foray into the world on ‘live acting’. Added to which, Scarlett and Bliss have a bone of contention, in form of Scarlett’s semi live in relationship with her financer Lawrence who also used to be Bliss’s ex.

Bliss, in accordance with her spoilt Hollywood diva personality wants to hog the lime light and wants the play to be all about her and does not seem to hold any respect for the cast and crew of ‘Swan Song’ or for the matter the young producer, Scarlett. In fact, one, as a reader, questions several times, Scarlett’s choice in hiring someone like Bliss to head her show when she already has the extremely talented and professional understudy Kelly, who could have been Scarlett’s choice of heroine the first place. This gives the reader a good idea of how shallow the business could be where real talent is sometimes forcibly cast aside in favour of the glitz, glamour and the crowd pulling ‘kaching!’ of Hollywood. Bliss means big bucks and huge crowds for ‘Swan Song’ thus the whole cast and crew of the production, including the show’s no-nonsense publicist Karen have to put up with her diva antics.

Added to this already explosive mix, comes in Marco as Bliss’s ever-suffering publicist when Bliss has a bit of a wobbly opening night. Marco also just happens to be Scarlett’s ex-flame and it seems both of them still have some unfinished business….

I felt that I as a reader (who has not read the previous two books in the saga and is reading this as a stand alone) could have been given a little more background on Scarlett’s past faux relationship with Graham and current arrangement with Lawrence, whom as a character, I found extremely charming. Who would not want a Lawrence in their lives, the dinners, the massages, the encouragement! We also know that Scarlett had history with Marco, but I would have liked to have known a bit more of their past and how they became as close as they obviously were.

However, what makes this book very readable and stand out for me are the glimpses the reader gets into the world of Broadway show production, the struggles of the cast and crew, the blood, sweat, tears and damage limitation that goes on backstage coupled with the faux image of perfection and glamour that the whole cast, headed by the producer Scarlett, portray to the media and the audience. Indeed, you feel for both Scarlett and Marco, both of whom are being manipulated and being stretched to the very limits of their patience by the arrogant Primadonna Bliss who after realising that she was struggling with hitting high notes on her songs and acting live rushes off back to LA, leaving the show sans the lead actress.  The trials and tribulations that come Scarlett’s way after this form the rest of the story.

I was quite charmed by old-timer and producer extraordinaire of the times past, Fay who not not only offers Scareltt valuable advice through the course of the novel but who also in the end turns out to be Scarlett’s very own mentor and fairy godmother in disguise, helping her to finally make her brand spanking new Broadway show a success and gives the reader the ‘alls well that ends well’ happy ending which we all love!

This book gets a well-deserved four stars and is worth reading just to learn more about the all the creative aspects and technicalities of producing and presenting a Broadway show. Additionally, this is absolutely perfect as a summer/beach read.

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