Author: Kate Forster
Close up is the latest Kate Forster book set in the glitzy world of Hollywood where not all is as it seems. Many big Hollywood names rate a mention but none of the A-listers make it into the leading role of this Hollywood hit. The glitz and glamour is the backdrop but the drama is all too real – though you wouldn’t believe it if it was in the movies.
Our leading ladies are Zoe Greene, manager to the stars; Maggie Hall, Hollywood sweetheart; and Dylan Mercer, fresh-faced and new to Hollywood in search of answers. We meet all three of them at the Vanity Fair Oscars party. Zoe has an important meeting with studio head Jeff Beerman and Dylan is working the event, Maggie meets her in the rest room where she is working.
There is also an element of mystery in the story with two timelines, the past storyline centres on two young friends, Krista and Shay. I unraveled this connection almost immediately but that didn’t detract anything from my enjoyment of the story.
Zoe is meeting with Beerman about a project she has in the works – the film adaptation of bestselling novel The Art Of Love, which she wants to produce. This project will become central to all of the storylines in the book. Zoe is managing author Hugh Cavell and has brought him over to dry out and write the script. Maggie wants the lead role, she loved the book and introduced Zoe to it, it’s also part of the reason her marriage broke down.
Close Up held me tight in its grasp throughout, watching the way this project affected people and relationships. We soon realise there is more to Zoe and Maggie than meets the eye. They have always been best friends and we are given glimpses throughout of just how far they have come in life, how different their lives are now from where they began and through it all they had each other.
Maggie is Hollywood’s sweetheart and is determined to land the leading role in The Art of Love, even though she is too old for the role. Her love of the book has her idealising the marriage of author Hugh and his wife so when she discovers he is in Hollywood she can’t wait to meet him, but is sorely disappointed by her first impressions. Just like the screen hides a multitude of flaws so too can the written word. Regardless of first impressions Maggie finds herself spending time with Hugh as a favour to Zoe and before long they find a rapport.
Zoe finds working with Beerman more challenging than she anticipated, he is chauvinistic and can be an absolute pig but there is a different side to him hiding behind the Hollywood mask if you care to look. Beermans mask is convincing and hides a lonely aging man with three divorces under his belt and three estranged children. He wants this movie to be the big box office hit that puts his studio back on top. The budget can’t be big but he wants a big star, and he wants that star to be Maggie’s ex-husband Will MacIntyre.
It is all very entangled and for such a big setting there was quite a small cast. The six degrees of separation seemed a little too many and it seemed The Art of Love taught all the players a thing or two.
Dylan is in Hollywood searching for answers and not getting very far, her funds are low and it looks like she’s going to have to return to New York no better off than when she left. Things are looking grim when Maggie calls Dylan to offer her a job as an assistant to her step-son who is recovering from a heart transplant. Elliott isn’t sure how to go about living with his new heart but is thinking about writing. Dylan has no experience and isn’t sure how she can assist but this job will allow her to remain in LA so it’s worth a try.
I found Close Up to have a depth I wasn’t really expecting set in the midst of the glitzy Hollywood lifestyle.
Zoe and Maggie have always been the best of friends, been together through everything and they are the keepers of each others secrets so when they start keeping secrets from each other things get a little strained. They both have their eyes on their prize and for the first time that is at direct odds with one another. In one way or another The Art of Love enables all the characters to find their true prize, even if it isn’t the one they were looking for.
Close Up is well written with beautiful characters, it was a complex read which at times was a lot of fun but there were also quite heartbreaking scenes. Kate Forster is certainly an author I would like to read again.