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Book Review: Private Lives by Tasmina Perry

'private lives tasmina perry Book Review: Private Lives by Tasmina Perry

If theres one thing that chick lit is highly successful at, its at making you value the fact that your fellow is quite the catch indeed, and that your friends are just thatfriends, rather than ultra-catty femme fatales full of more venom than a king brown. Chick lit, after all, is all about dissecting the goings on of the uber-competitive industries of marketing, fashion, or law (invariably in London or New York), and about doing quite the hatchet job on both sexes at the same time.

When its done poorly, youll find yourself shivering on the couch wondering whether the world is indeed against youand perhaps reaching for a bottle of gin. But when its done well youll find yourself rubbing that rose-tinted sheen from your sunnies and filled with the sudden urge to embrace all the lovely folk around you. Oh, lovely fiance, you arent a scumbag Hollywood movie star who cheats on me, fellow Hollywood movie star, with some Titian harlot. Oh, dear sister, you wont run off with my man and pretend that our parents had nothing to do with your television success. Oh, best friend, I have nothing to fear from your stiletto heels and camera phone. Oh, former boss, youre

Lets leave it there before I get too fanciful, shall we?

Anyway, needless to say, most of the above scenarios, and all manner of additional superbly rendered excess manage to pack their way into Tasmina Perrys latest novel Private Lives, which follows a fairly similar thematic path to her previous novel Kiss Heaven Goodbye'(see my review). And like Kiss Heaven Goodbye, its really rather good indeed. When it comes to sordid plots and gasp-worthy shenanigans, Perry wields her pen (Macbook?) like some sort of medieval torture device, and comes up with some brutal stuff indeed. Private Lives, though running at a good 500 or so pages, is exactly the sort of book that sits so beautifully under the Read in a Single Sitting remityou cant put it down even though your elbows are aching from the strain of holding it up for some several hours.

Private Lives'is at its heart an examination of the increasingly narrow division between the private and public elements of our existence, and how this brittle separation can be so readily manipulated by the media or really by just about anyone in the know to get across a particular agenda or to, perhaps, bury something plausibly newsworthy.

Film star Sam Carr is used to the paparazzis intrusion into his personal life, is used to his fans expectations that they be able to get to know him. Hes used to projecting a particular face to the world through careful interview responses, efforts to kiss babies and help old ladies, and even a strained engagement with a an up-and-coming Hollywood starlet. But Sam obviously isnt used to holding his booze, because one night he slips up (or, er, out?) and finds himself in bed with a young lass whos definitely not his fiance.

Media laywer Anna Kennedy isnt surprised when Sam Carr comes a-calling. As one of the top privacy and media legal eagles in the biz, shes buried more skeletons than a gravedigger, and sets things rolling so that Sams indiscretion will find itself buried deeper than an igneous rock. But Annas watertight case is somehow overturned, spelling disaster not just for Sams career, but Annas as well. Anna, after all, is new at the powerhouse Donovan and Price, and Helen Price is gleefully circling like a hungry vulture with a case of schadenfreude. Anna, however, knows her stuff, and she knows that she hasnt done anything wrong. Someone has been meddlingbut who, how, and why she has no idea. That is, until she hears rumours of a young socialites suspicious death and the astonishingly well-connected list of suspects.

Perry does a formidable job of getting and keeping things rolling, and youll find those pages turning like pancakes flipped by an energetic child (goodness, and I thought my previous similes were baddont hate me). Sure, on its glossy surface this novel seems to be simply a scatty novel about power plays and overly structured tailored work suits, but at its heart its a very well done mystery with a cast list its hard not to fall for. There are the requisite Hollywood dolts whose lives are all about no-carb diets and Botox, the greasy, sleazy paps with their rumbling sports cars, and a whole bunch of lawyers who would make bloody good Dementors, but these archetypes give Perry a background against which she successfully builds her main characters, and also allow Perry to inject just the right amount of humour into this novel, and given the surprisingly dark subject matter we come across as the novel progresses, these moments of levity are essentialalthough some are ridiculously over-the-top even for Hollywood: do we really need a faked pregnancy? As noted, on the whole her main characters'are quite nuanced, with Anna in particular being well-rounded and believable. Sams character, however, doesnt quite get the same thorough treatment that Anna does, and he continues to come off as a bit of a spurious man-child for most of the novel (This seems to be an ongoing trend in chick lit, I have to say: the men tend not to be as well-rounded as the female characters).

While we get our fair share of romantic shenanigans, glass ceiling bashing, and (private) jetsetting about to all sorts of beautiful locationsCapri and Kerala just to name a 'fewPrivate Lives'is a thoughtful exploration of the effect of the ubiquitous media and the systemic changes to our perceptions of privacy. In addition to that, it looks rather seriously at the idea that the story that were being told is perhaps not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And when you think about the homogeneity of the media these days, as well as the shared and overlapping interests of those involvedwell, thats a rather eerie thought indeed.

In all, Tasmina Perry hits it out of the park with a novel that hits all of the chick lit boxes and then some. Its fun but not necessarily fluffy, its witty without being too cutting, and it has a love story without being a love story. Yes, its about the privileged set, but in a way thats intelligently critical, and while the final reveal is a little bit rickety, the mystery overall is solid and well-paced. Take it to the beach (but make sure that youre wearing something that wont get you embroiled in a privacy lawsuit).

Rating: star Book Review: Private Lives by Tasmina Perrystar Book Review: Private Lives by Tasmina Perrystar Book Review: Private Lives by Tasmina Perrystar Book Review: Private Lives by Tasmina Perryblankstar Book Review: Private Lives by Tasmina Perry (excellent)

With thanks to Hachette Australia for the review copy

Purchase Private Lives'from Amazon | Book Depository UK | Book Depository USA

See also our review of Kiss Heaven Goodbye

'Other books by Tasmina Perry:

kiss heaven goodbye perry1 Book Review: Private Lives by Tasmina Perrydaddys girls perry Book Review: Private Lives by Tasmina Perryguilty pleasures perry Book Review: Private Lives by Tasmina Perryoriginal sin perry Book Review: Private Lives by Tasmina Perrygold diggers perry Book Review: Private Lives by Tasmina Perry

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