My rating: 3 of 5 stars
My thanks goes to Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a copy
“Actress Willow Carruthers is Australia’s favourite daughter. Now living the dream life in London, with an Oscar on her shelf and a rock-star husband, the beautiful Willow seems to have it all – wealth, fame and three perfect children.
Kitty Middlemist, Willow’s nanny, is used to flying under the radar. But a life-changing secret forces her to rethink her tactics.
So when Willow suddenly falls from grace Kitty offers her the perfect place to hide – Middlemist Manor, the crumbling ancestral home of Kitty and her reclusive older brother, Merritt.
Middlemist is the dream location for Willow’s new movie, a gorgeous costume drama that the actress hopes will restore her fortunes. But sparks fly as the house is taken over by a glamorous and demanding cast and crew, and the distinction between acting and real life becomes ever more blurred.
From London to LA, Byron Bay to Sydney, is a lush, compelling story about passion, betrayal, forgiveness and the price of fame.”
Willow Carruthers, beautiful movie star, wife and mother of three is living a life we can only dream about – little does she know that it’s about to shatter and the most unlikeliest of people will come to her rescue.
Whilst we are drawn into the drama surrounding Willow and come to learn that her husband Kerr has quite capably managed to squander all their money – leaving them almost penniless as well as homeless – her nanny, Kitty Middlemist, continues to be the one person she can rely on when it comes to organising her home and three children – Lucian, Poppy and Jinty.
But that’s not all, because when Kitty learns of Willow’s imminent homelessness (as well as her potential unemployment), she becomes Willow’s saving grace and offers her childhood home, Middlemist Manor, to Willow and the children as a roof over their heads – as well as a hideaway from the headlines about to make the tabloids – giving Willow the opportunity to try and re-gather her slowly crumbling life and career.
Middlemist Manor then becomes the “light at the end of the tunnel” so to speak, with lots of great things beginning to happen in both Willow’s and Kitty’s lives. Amidst the filming of the period movie in which Willow is the lead actress, both her and Kitty cross paths with affable Harold, producer extraordinaire of the movie being filmed; Merritt, who happens to be Kitty’s older brother and a qualified landscaper taking time out from his travels; and Ivo, the son of wealthy parents who doesn’t appear to have much ambition in life.
This historic family home may just be what everybody involved needs – and whilst some of these characters carry their own secrets, the house is about to reveal some secrets of its own!
Kate Forster has drawn her characters well, albeit creating a certain amount of disdain in me for Willow and, I’m not sure what it is with the last two books I’ve read, but this is the second female character to whom I took an immediate dislike and then as the story progressed, warmed up to.
I had some difficulty engaging with her as she came across as rather superficial to begin with and, just as I was warming up to her she did it again in Part 2! Of course, being a mother myself, I was a bit perturbed at the emotional distance she managed to keep from her children and the difficulties she had interacting with them.
Kitty is gorgeous – in more ways than one. Although quite young, I warmed up to her immediately with her complete and utter selflessness. Eager to please everyone around her whilst harbouring a deep secret of her own, she managed to shine through, developing so well and becoming a character I thoroughly enjoyed.
Along with Merritt, whom I found to be quite upstanding, typically British and with hardly an arrogant bone in his body; and Harold, kindly benefactor and absolute darling (who truly was a guardian angel due to his timeous appearances in the most unlikeliest of places), Ivo was probably one of the characters who had the most to learn in this story and I really enjoyed the way his character grew with him ultimately realising that life is not all about “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll”.
Although I felt that there were some places in the book where there was too much going on, certain events could have been expanded upon and even though to my mind the plot was a bit weak and predictable, Kate has a noticeable talent which, like a fine wine, can only get better with time.
This novel has earned 3 stars from me and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to those of you looking for a fast-paced light read with a hint of something different.
And last, but not least, this is my second book for the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge.
A Bit About the Author (taken from her website)
Kate lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, two children and dogs and can be found nursing a laptop, surrounded by magazines and talking on the phone, usually all at once. She is an avid follower of fashion, fame and all things pop culture and is also an excellent dinner party guest who always brings gossip and champagne.