Title: The Weekend

Author: Charlotte Wood

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Orion 

The Blurb

Sylvie, Jude, Wendy and Adele have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three.

These women couldn’t be more different: Jude, a once-famous restaurateur with a spotless life and a long-standing affair with a married man; Wendy, an acclaimed feminist intellectual; Adele, a former star of the stage, now practically homeless. 

Struggling to recall exactly why they’ve remained close all these years, the grieving women gather for one last weekend at Sylvie’s old beach house. But fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface – a storm that will either remind them of the bond they share, or sweep away their friendship for good. 

The Review

The Weekend is the story of three friends – Adele, Wendy and Jude – as they spend the Christmas weekend clearing out the home of their friend Sylvie who has died. With decades of friendship behind them we learn that relationships between those you hold closest are often the ones with the darkest secrets.

Golden Girls, The Weekend ain’t. The group of friends are trying their hardest to hold it together but with age comes a lot of things, mainly invisibility and negativity from others. Without Sylvie, the dynamic of the friends has changed and the balance leads to revelations about the past that may have stayed better buried.

Charlotte Wood’s The Weekend is a great story of the lasting power of friendship and how people should be allowed to grow old in any way and whatever fashion that way they want.

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood is available now.

For more information regarding Orion (@orionbooks) please visit www.orionbooks.co.uk.

Title: Hot Mess

Author: Lucy Vine

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Orion

The Blurb

Hot Mess [n.] – someone who is attractive, but often in a state of disarray, repeatedly finding themselves in uncomfortable predicaments.

Ellie Knight is just like you. Her life isn’t turning out the way she thought it would. Some people might say she’s a hot mess but then who really has their s**t together before they’re thirty?

It’s Valentine’s Day and Ellie Knight finds herself eating Nutella in the bar stockroom after a no-show date.
But single doesn’t have to be the loneliest number, does it?
She goes back home to her flatshare and weird flatmates.
It’s ok there’s black mould everywhere, right?
With a hangover from hell, she goes to the office job she thought she would have quit by now.
Doesn’t everyone hate their job?

Maybe Ellie isn’t following the *official life plan* but perfect is overrated. For fans of Fleabag and Girls, this is a fresh and funny coming-of-age story with a single-girl heroine that everyone will relate to – a modern Carrie Bradshaw meets Bridget Jones.

The Review

It has been a long time since I have read a new adult book that has had me clutching my sides giggling but that was exactly my response to Lucy Vine’s Hot Mess. It is the story of soon-to-be-thirty Ellie who is dealing with the rules and expectations put on women by society and perpetuated by the people around them. And it is bloody brilliant.

It would be remiss of me to not say that Hot Mess did make me think of Fleabag meets My Dad Wrote a Porno. It has the same tone and a weirdly similar set up but since I also loved Fleabag I don’t see this as a bad thing and I think this was released first but just so there are no surprises I felt I should include it.

Ellie is the perfect heroine. Yes, she acts on her own terms later rather than sooner but she is a modern day heroine and I seriously wish that she had her own series of books rather than just a stand-alone novel.

Hot Mess by Lucy Vine is available now.

For more information regarding Lucy Vine (@Lecv) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Orion (@orionbooks) please visit www.orion.co.uk.

Title: The Vanity Fair Diaries 1983 – 1992

Author: Tina Brown

Pages: 448 Pages

Publisher: Orion

The Blurb

The sizzling diaries of Tina Brown’s eight spectacular years as editor in chief of Vanity Fair paint a riveting portrait of the flash, dash and follies of the Eighties in New York and Hollywood.

The Vanity Fair Diaries is the story of an Englishwoman barely out of her twenties who arrives in Manhattan on a mission. Summoned from London in hopes that she can save Condé Nast’s troubled new flagship Vanity Fair, Tina Brown is immediately plunged into the maelstrom of the competitive New York media world and the backstabbing rivalries at the court of the planet’s slickest, most glamour-focused magazine company. She survives the politics, the intrigue and the attempts to derail her by a simple stratagem: succeeding. In the face of rampant scepticism, she triumphantly reinvents a failing magazine.

Here are the inside stories of Vanity Fair scoops and covers that sold millions: the Reagan kiss, the meltdown of Princess Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles, the sensational Annie Leibovitz cover of a gloriously pregnant, naked Demi Moore. In the diary’s cinematic pages, the drama, comedy and struggle of running an ‘it’ magazine come to life. Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries is also a woman’s journey, of making a home in a new country and of the deep bonds with her husband, their prematurely born son and their daughter.

Astute, open-hearted, often riotously funny, Tina Brown’s The Vanity Fair Diaries is a compulsively fascinating and intimate chronicle of a woman’s life in a glittering era.

The Review

The Vanity Fair Diaries is, at once, a deeply personal account of a period of time as well as a cultural document more fascinating than any history book you may read.

In her fascinating diaries, Tina Brown gives the reader a sneak-peak into the world of celebrity and news journalism. We see the cutthroat attitude towards women in the media and the battle that pioneering writers took on to make sure that they held their place in a male dominated environment.

Beyond that, we have Brown’s personal life held on display for us to see the worlds as they run parallel. What is interesting to think about is whether or not Tina Brown did use total disclosure when sharing her diaries with the world. If not, imagine the saucy secrets those books still hold.

The Vanity Fair Diaries 1983 – 1992 by Tina Brown is available now.

For more information regarding Tina Brown (@TinaBrownLM) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Orion (@orionbooks) please visit www.orionbooks.co.uk.

Marilyn MonroeTitle: Marilyn Monroe

Author: Barbara Leaming

Pages: 480 Pages

Publisher: Orion

The Blurb

Barbara Leaming’s Marilyn Monroe is a complex, sympathetic portrait that will forever change the way we view the most enduring icon of America sexuality. To those who think they have heard all there is to hear about Marilyn Monroe, think again. Leaming’s book tells a bran-new tale of sexual, psychological, and political intrigue of the highest order. Told for the first time in all its complexity, this is a compelling portrait of a woman at the centre of a drama with immensely high stakes, a drama in which the other players are some of the most fascinating characters from the worlds of movies, theatre, and politics. It is a book that shines a bright light on one of the most tumultuous frightening, and exciting periods in American culture.

Basing her research on new interviews and on thousands of primary documents – including revealing letters by Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan, John Huston, Laurence Olivier, Tennessee Williams, Darryl Zanuck, Marilyn’s psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson, and many others – Leaming has reconstructed the tangle of betrayal in Marilyn’s Life. For the first time, a master story teller has put together all the pieces and told Marilyn’s story with the intensity and drama it so richly deserves.

At the heart of this book is a sexual triangle and a riveting story that has never been told before. You will come away filled with new respect for Marilyn’s incredible courage, dignity, and loyalty, and an overwhelming sense of tragedy after witnessing Marilyn, powerless to overcome her demons, move inexorably to her own final, terrible betrayal of herself.

Marilyn Monroe is a book that will make you think and will break your heart.

The Review

I never knew an awful lot about Marilyn Monroe. I knew she was an iconic actress and that she had been married to Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio. I knew that it had been rumoured that she had had an affair with JFK but all this stuff is the generic facts that most people know. Once I had read Barbara Leaming’s book I knew so much more.

What I really loved about this book was that Leaming didn’t glorify Monroe. She discussed matters of Monroe’s life in an in-depth but sensitive way. She had a knack of showing Monroe, warts and all, without making your perceptions of Monroe too altered yet giving you an extra dimension to consider.

It isn’t just the story of Marilyn Monroe. It is the story of film making and Monroe as one of the first cluster of women who tried to break through the glass ceiling of an industry long considered a boys club.

Marilyn Monroe is a fascinating read.

Marilyn Monroe by Barbara Leaming is available now.

35 Stars