Disclaimer! I got an ARC from NetGalley. This has in no way influenced my review. I had already pre-ordered my copy of the book months ago, long before the ARCs became available. Also, because I am terribly late in reviewing it, the book is available on sale from the e-book vendor of your choice. It’s excellent, you should totally spend your monies on it!
But what is the book about, Malin? You cannot expect people to fork out their hard-earned cash without knowing anything of the story. So here goes…
Frederica “Freddy” Carlton has been a critical darling on the London stage for more than a decade, having started out as a child star. She started out doing a lot of comedic work and musicals, but now her father, also her manager, wants her to focus on more dramatic and “serious” acting, following in the footsteps of her acclaimed grandmother, who was famous not just for her dramatic roles, but for later in her career writing one of the seminal dramas of the 20th Century. To say Freddy feels the family legacy weighing heavily on her shoulders is putting it lightly.
James “Griff” Ford-Griffin is the only rational and pragmatic member of a family of dreamers. When he’s not on television as a theatre historian, he writes insightful and scathing reviews in one of the big London papers. His parents keep spending money they don’t have hand over fist, his brother is well-meaning but rather ineffectual when it comes to actually helping out in any real way, while Griff is trying to keep the family estate afloat though any means possible.
Freddy and Griff first run into one another in a pub in London, after Freddy and her TV presenter sister has overheard Griff taking apart Freddy’s most recent theatre performance in very unflattering terms. Even though his judgement of her acting is rather brutal, Freddy is also deeply impressed with how Griff seems to be the only one to see what she really wants to do with her career and how these new serious parts are sapping her spirit.
They meet again about a year later, when Freddy arrives along with a large cast of high profile TV and theatre actors to take part in “The Austen Playbook”, a one night televised stage performance of a popular “Choose your own adventure” computer game, starring Jane Austen’s many popular characters in a drawing room mystery. The TV viewers will have the chance to vote at various points of the performance on what direction they want the play to continue, meaning all the actors will have to learn a truly staggering amount of lines and plot variants. The location for this special TV event? Griff’s family estate, which sports its own private theatre (built by his love struck grandfather for Freddy’s actress/playwright grandmother, when they had a torrid affair back in the day). Griff and his brother have been promised a share in the profits and desperately hope that the event is a hit, or it’s pretty much bye bye family mansion.
Freddy is bubbly, cheerful and optimistic. Griff is icy, sarcastic and tends to see the worst in any situation. They are polar opposites, but both became aware of the sizzling chemistry between them that first time they met in the pub, and staying in close confines on Griff’s family estate means they soon find the opportunity to act on their mutual attraction. Complicating matters further is the fact that Griff is developing a film about Henrietta Carlton, Freddy’s famous grandmother (and her affair with his grandfather), while Freddy’s father is trying to stop him from getting the film financed. Freddy’s manager dad is also deeply displeased about her choice to do something quite as frivolous as playing Lydia Bennett in a crowd-pleasing TV event, when she should be focusing all her energies on getting cast as the lead in “The Velvet Room”, her grandmother’s famous play.
Full review on my blog.