Publication Date: February 16th 2016 (first published April 14th 2015)
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Jess Dunne is third-generation Hollywood, but her star on the boulevard has yet to materialize. Sure, she’s got a Santa Monica address and a working actress roommate, but with her nowhere barista job in a town that acknowledges zeroes only as a dress size, she’s a dead girl walking.
Enter Jess’s mother—a failed actress who puts the strange in estrangement. She dives headlong into her daughter’s downward spiral, forcing Jess to muster all her spite and self-preservation to snag a career upgrade.
As a personal assistant for a famous (and secretly agoraphobic) film composer, Jess’s workdays are now filled with shopping for luxury goods and cooking in his perfectly designed kitchen. Jess kills at cooking, a talent that only serves her intensifying urge to dig in to Los Angeles’s celebrity buffet.
When her food garners the attention of an actress on the rise, well, she’s all too willing to throw it in with the composer and upgrade again, a decision that will have far-reaching ramifications that could explode all her relationships.
All the while, her mother looms ever closer, forcing Jess to confront the traumatic secrets she’s been running from all her life.
Oh! You Pretty Things is a dizzying ride at the carnival of fame, a fast-paced and sharply funny work that dares to imagine what happens when we go over the top in a town of gilded excess.
Thank you to PENGUIN GROUP Dutton publishing for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
If there’s a type of conflict I tend to find interesting in books, films, and IRL, it’s the whole “townies vs. tourists” thing and its many variations (locals vs. students, “summer people,” transplants, etc.).
When I saw that the main character of this book was in the midst of the hollywood life I love so much but not actually one of them herself, I knew I had to read it!
This book offers such a perspective through the point of view of its protagonist, a working-class, third-generation Hollywood resident who is well familiar with the silver screen and celebrity scene there and yet solidly remains an outsider relative to that scene, even as she knows the Hollywood streets inside and out and expertly navigates the politics and other tics of this difficult and elite microculture.
I hesitated to fully buy the protagonist character in one major way: she has a full-on celebrity obsession that I found unrealistic given her history and the rest of her character, and that I also found annoying because I’m completely uninterested in celebrity culture myself. I read books largely to escape all the gushing over celebrities that takes place elsewhere, so I was annoyed to encounter much gushing over celebrities (both real and fictitious) in the pages of this book.
As for the pacing, I could have used a more fast paced story in the beginning and not so much jumping around for the rest of the book. It took me awhile to get into the book and when I did and she started to work for the composer.
Overall, I expected a lot more depth and reality from this book. Also, I wanted so many more references to celebrities that I actually know, instead of brief references of Jess looking at her favorite gossip blogs. More details would have created a much more believable world and connectable story. In all, a very engaging read that I enjoyed over vacation, and a really enjoyable setting as shown through the protagonist’s eyes.