Genuine Lies, by Nora Roberts

>> Thursday, December 29, 2005

This is amazing. Whenever I think I've reread all the Nora Roberts books I've forgotten about or never read at all, I always find another one I somehow managed to skip when I looked at my shelves. Last week I finally noticed Genuine Lies, hiding there behind all the others.

A book to die for...

Eve Benedict is the last of the movie goddesses, a smoky-voiced sex symbol with two Oscars, four ex-husbands, and a legion of lovers to her name. There is no secret, no scandal she doesn't know. Now Eve has decided to write her memoirs--no holds barred. All Hollywood begs her not to. But Eve has her reasons....

Julia Summers is the biographer Eve has handpicked to tell her story. Transported from her quiet life in Connecticut to glitzy Beverly Hills, Julia hates the limelight but loves her work--and the home it built for the ten-year-old son she's raising alone. How can she refuse this chance of a lifetime?

But Eve's elegantly sexy stepson, Paul Winthrop, will challenge Eve's determination to tell her story--and Julia's resolve to guard her heart. And as Julia learns just how far Eve's enemies will go to keep her book from publication, she also discovers that Eve has one last, dark secret to share. It is one that will change Julia's life--and could cut it brutally short.
Well, no wonder this one wasn't at all memorable. It was borderline ok, a B- hovering very near a C+. The middle section saves it, because the first and last parts weren't very enjoyable to me.

So what was the problem? Well, to borrow a a phrase from P.Devi, this was more Judith Krantz than Jayne Ann Krentz. Lots and lots of glitter and glitz and life of movie stars and sleazy scandal, which just isn't something that attracts me. Ever seen that "Move over, Sidney Sheldon: the world has a new master of romantic suspense, and her name is Nora Roberts." quote printed on the cover of one of Nora's books? It's always baffled me, because I really don't see much in common between the two. This book, however, givesme a glimmer of what that person could have been thinking. It does have that flavour to it, especially the first and last sections.

The book combines a present-day story with lots and lots of delving into the past, which is a device which I often love. Julia Summers is a writer of celebrity bios, and she's offered the chance to do the authorized biography of Eve Benedict, quintessential Hollywood star and still a very sought-after and sexy leading lady even as she nears her 70th birthday. Eve has decided to tell all, every single one of her secrets, and given her long career in Hollywood, these secrets are particularly juicy and involve a large number of people, many of whom would do anything to keep them secret.

So on one hand we've got Julia's story, as she settles in Eve's estate with her young son and works on the bio and falls in love with Eve's stepson. On the other, we've got the story of Eve's life and career in Hollywood, narrated both via flashbacks (not very many) and straight narration by Eve.

I actually thought the info about Eve's life story was well-integrated into the story. Unfortunately, it just wasn't a story that interested me. The 70-year-old Eve was an interesting character, but her past, not so much.

The thing is, I've never been fascinated by movie stars, and I've never been able to understand why people idolize them. Neither do I find the stereotypical "Hollywood romance" particulary romantic, and Eve's big love story is very stereotypical. She and Victor (whose last name has fled my mind right now) have supposedly been in love for years and years, but Victor can't leave his wife and live openly with Eve because his wife's sickly and a devout Catholic and he feels too guilty to leave her, because her health began to suffer when she miscarried a child. Is it supposed to be romantic that a guy cares more about his guilty conscience than about making the woman he's supposed to love happy? I don't think so.

There are lots more episodes in Eve's past which were like this: supposed to affect me one way, but actually affecting me in a completely different one. I guess I was supposed to find all that celebrity gossip exciting and glamourous, but I mostly found it sleazy and boring.

I wanted more on the present day story. I wanted more of Julia, of Julia and Paul, of Julia and Eve interacting, of Eve and Paul, even of Paul and Julia's son Brandon. The middle section concentrates on that a bit more, and it was good enough that it almost compensated for the rest of the book.

Oh, and I mustn't forget to mention the prologue. That was really BAD! I'd very much suggest skipping it to anyone who wants to read the book. It's one of those which show you a scene from very late in the book... in this case, Julia leaving the courthouse after being arraigned for the murder of a female, unnamed someone, who I immediately assumed was Eve (I won't say if I was right about that). She leaves the courthouse and goes into a car, where she's given a glass of champagne by someone, who I immediately assumed was Paul (won't say if I was right about that, either) and who asks her "Well, did you kill her?"

I hated that! First, because I spent the entire book waiting for that to happen, and second, because when it happened, it turned out something in that scene was definitely cheating on Nora's part. That "Well, did you kill her?" ? Very misleading. And this trial thing marked the moment in which the story turned into a bit of a courtroom drama, completely changing the tone of the book. Not very satisfying.

Oh, well, at least it was quick reading, even if it was 550 pages long!


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