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Late by Australian author Michael Fitzgerald is a heartwarming fiction story of overcoming fears and finding oneself in the process.

Zelda Zonk an American actress is a mess, a physical mess inside, and dealing with it while also starring in motion pictures. Drawn into the world of fads and beauty that is Hollywood she decides to leave the industry and moves to Sydney, Australia.

Living in a clifftop apartment with her two cats Zelda occurs an old typewriter. She was not the typical star you find in Hollywood and as she writes a book to herself, she begins to recount her life following her struggles.

Daniel is locked out of his friend’s apartment who he is house-sitting for.  When he meets his neighbour Zelda, she is suspicious of this young man’s actions. He wins her over with his wit and charm. Despite the age difference, the pair form an improbable close connection and open up to each other about their lives.

The descriptive power of the narration was incredible, and I found myself thoroughly absorbed in the story as it progressed. Although it is a quick read it is deep, emotional, and thought provoking.

The main characters are realistic, and each has a distinctive personality. The dialogue between the friends is entertaining and endearing. I enjoyed how they were so different but both being orphans sealed their bond.

Zelda’s characterization is very well put together as she is forced to draw upon her own inner strength to vanquish terrible obstacles and hidden secrets. Facing who you truly are and the meaning in your life is never easy, but it is even more difficult when you’re an actress.

There are a lot of moving pieces and dramatic scenes in the novel.  I particularly enjoyed the idea that choosing the right way to handle things and that everything you do and decide will affect every other aspect of your life, and of those around you. 

The poem at the end is deep and profound which will tug at your heart. I find poems can capture the interest of any reader, even if they are not poetry lovers.

Late is a novel about deep love and connections on a visceral and emotional level that really draws the reader into the world and delivers a powerful story. 

I recommend it to anyone who wants a well-written story with a message at its core.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading Lost by Michael Fitzgerald. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

3 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Late

  1. Many thanks to Beauty and Lace and Transit Lounge for my copy to read and review.

    At the start I was really confused about what I was reading. I persevered and it began to make sense. It was about half way through I realized who the main character was supposed to be. Although truly fiction it was well researched and portrayed well.

    I did find it hard as I kept missing the little asterisk’s and in turn missing the keynotes placed at the bottom of the page. Once I got my head around this it became a lot easier to read and understand. That’s not the author’s fault it was just that I was not used to reading this way.
    Many people would find it easy.

    The story itself had a lot of interesting elements. It hit on subjects like being gay in the 80’s with gay bashing and the scare of aids around that time, of adoption, friendships and family.

    It was a quick book to read, easily read in a day but left an impression.

  2. For me the story didn’t flow. It’s not written in a down to earth fashion comes across more whimsical to me, which makes it almost more confusing to try and figure out what point the character is trying to make.

    I also really struggled with the footnotes marked a little Asterix at the bottom of the pages it was quite easy to miss, and when you didn’t miss it, it halted any flow or momentum the story had gained.

    All up I didn’t enjoy reading this style book at all, and really struggled with the portion that I did manage to finish. I tried many many times to read this book and it wasn’t a pleasant task

  3. “Late” is the kind of novel that some people will love, and others will find pretentious. The main difficulty readers will have with it, I think, is that it relies to some extent on the reader being familiar with Marilyn Monroe’s life. The more familiar you are with her life and career, the more likely you are to appreciate this novel.

    “Late” is the story of a retired actress living in Sydney in the late 1980s. It is clear that the actress, although called Zelda Zonk, is in fact intended to be Marilyn Monroe after she has faked her death.

    This is more of a character study than a story. It’s told as a stream of consciousness, and is light on plot. It’s also light on details as to how she faked her death.

    The novel is rich with allusions to Marilyn’s life. There were some I picked up on and understood; I suspect I missed many more, because I’m not that familiar with the details of her biography. This is somewhat frustrating, as I think this would have been a much better reading experience if I could follow more of the passing references to films, marriages, and public gossip about her.

    Even without that, I found it an interesting character study of a woman who’s very cynical about how other people see her, and yet can’t stop thinking about it. This is a relatively slight volume, and I found it a fast read. It wasn’t exactly absorbing, but it did hold my interest.

    The novel uses footnotes liberally, which I found distracting and annoying. They didn’t add enough to the novel to justify the constant interruption. When there was a stretch without footnotes, the writing flowed well and swept me along quite quickly.

    The novel raises a lot of questions about how we view each other – particularly public figures – and how that aligns (or not) with their own inner life. It’s mildly thought provoking, but I’m not sure that it says anything very new.

    Overall this was interesting. However, it’s not very accessible to readers unfamiliar with Marilyn Monroe’s life. If you’re looking for something well written that may push you a bit out of your comfort zone, this will do it.

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