Title: The Wardrobe Girl
Author: Jennifer Smart
Published: Random House March 2014
Status: Read from March 08 to 09, 2014 — I own a copy
There are very few Australians who wouldn’t have seen at least one episode of the nightly drama, Home and Away, currently in its 26th year of broadcast. Debut author Jennifer Smart, who spent five years working on the show as a Director’s Assistant and then scriptwriter, draws on that experience in this light-hearted novel that offers a behind-the-scenes peek at television production, and a close up of the action happening off camera.
After a very public end to her celebrity relationship of three years, Tess Appleby has fled the UK and returned home to Australia, exchanging her role as a costumer designer with the BBC for a wardrobe assistant position on the iconic Australian soap opera, Pretty Beach Rescue. Hoping for a fresh start, Tess is content to leave the drama to the professionals but it seems she is destined to always end up center stage. On her very first day she attracts the lustful attention of the show’s leading man, and the ire of his co-star girlfriend, and within weeks she is back in the gossip pages, her showbiz pedigree outed with her life veering wildly off script. And then she discovers that Pretty Beach Rescue’s new director is Jake Freeman, her ex-fiancé whom she hasn’t seen in eight years but has never forgotten…
Tess’s real life rivals the melodramatic story lines of any soap with her secret celebrity parentage, a penchant for trouble and of course, her disastrous relationship history. Despite her talent for self sabotage, I liked Tess for her lack of pretension, her patience with her awful Mother and sister and her She makes mistakes, big ones even, but she is never intentionally malicious, mostly just confused and eventually she gets it together.
Though Tess is well developed, Smart does tend to rely on stereotypes for many of the cast and crew of Pretty Beach Rescue – the aging diva, the womanising leading man, the beautiful but shrewish starlet and the producer who has one eye on the figures, both financial and female- but in a way its part of the fun, emphasising the soap opera experience. I enjoyed the dynamics of the cast and crew ensemble, which revealed the camaraderie, rivalries and politics of the show.
The only real issue I had was with the portrayal of Tess’s sister as I didn’t understand why Emma was so nasty towards her, their interaction seemed suggest something beyond ordinary sibling rivalry but there was no explanation offered to confirm that.
Smart pokes fun at the Australian television industry as she gives the reader a peek behind the scenes. Though the show’s crew have been condensed into a more manageable cast for the novel, she gives you an idea of the people involved in producing a show, their roles and the work environment.
Ideal for fans of chick lit and soap operas Jennifer Smart’s debut, The Wardrobe Girl, is an entertaining read combining humour, romance and tabloid melodrama.
The Wardrobe Girl
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