Title: Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Author: Peter Turner

Pages: 177 Pages

Publisher: Picador

The Blurb

On 29 September 1981, Peter Turner received a phone call that would change his life. His former lover, Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame, had collapsed in a Lancaster hotel and was refusing medical attention. He had no choice but to take her into his chaotic and often eccentric family’s home in Liverpool.

Liverpool born and bred, Turner had first set eyes on Grahame when he was a young actor, living in London. Best known for her portrayal of irresistible femme fatales in films such as The Big HeatOklahoma and The Bad and the Beautiful, for which she won an Oscar, Grahame electrified audiences with her steely expressions and heavy lidded eyes and the heroines she bought to life were often dark and dangerous. Turner and Grahame became firm friends and remained so ever after their love affair had ended. And it was to him she turned in her final hour of need.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is an affectionate, moving and wryly humorous memoir of friendship, love and stardom.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is the absolutely lovely account of Peter Turner, a Liverpool born actor who had a chance encounter with an Oscar winning film star that changed his life. The fact that all this really happened makes it all the more Hollywood-esque and utterly heartbreaking.

Turner’s autobiographical account of his tryst with Gloria Grahame is the ultimately sad story of Hollywood’s devaluation of age and how, for female actors in particular, physical demise can be career destroying. Turner’s care and love for Grahame oozes off the page, besides love you feel an ultimate sense of respect and pain as he watches someone who he loves fall apart.

For me, one of the best parts of Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is Turner’s portrayal of Liverpool. He neither writes in clichés or disgust which is how I have found Liverpool to be portrayed in some books. However, Liverpool being his hometown may be how and why he manages to show it with such love and respect; similarly to what he shows Gloria Grahame.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool by Peter Turner is available now.

For more information regarding Picador (@picadorbooks) please visit www.panmacmillan.com/picador.

 

The Last Act of LoveTitle: The Last Act of Love – The Story of My Brother and His Sister

Author: Cathy Rentzenbrink

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan/Picador

The Blurb

In the summer of 1990, Cathy’s brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out. It was two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school. Sitting by his unconscious body in hospital, holding his hand and watching his heartbeat on the monitors, Cathy and her parents willed him to survive. They did not know then that there are many and various fates worse than death.

This is the story of what happened to Cathy and her brother, and the unimaginable decision that she and her parents had to make eight years after the night that changed everything. It’s a story for anyone who has ever watched someone suffer or lost someone they loved or lived through a painful time that left them forever changed.

Told with boundless warmth and affection, The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a heartbreaking yet uplifting testament to a family’s survival and the price we pay for love.

The Review

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a beautifully heartbreaking story of a life cut short and how to deal with death, and indeed, life and how to carry on.

Cathy Rentzenbrink was 17 when her younger brother was knocked down by a dangerous driver. Her brother, Matty, spent eight years in a permanent vegetative state. The Last Act of Love her story of how she and her family dealt with Matty’s condition and how eventually it became clear that it was crueller to keep him alive when he wasn’t living.

I have enormous respect for Cathy Rentzenbrink. Not only for the horrible decision that she had to make along with her family but that she had the courage to do it and then write about it. She has bled her feelings onto the page and she has done so with such dignity and grace.

The Last Act of Love is so cathartic and a deeply elegant story that is a beautiful read. I must for anyone who is dealing with loss.

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is available now.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

For more information regarding Picador (@picadorbooks) please visit www.panmacmillan.com/picador.

35 Stars

The RemindersTitle: The Reminders

Author: Val Emmich

Pages: 321 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

Overcome with the loss of his boyfriend Sydney, Gavin Winters has set fire to every reminder in their home. A neighbour has captured the blaze on video, turning this little-known TV actor into a household name. Gavin flees LA for New Jersey, where he hopes that ten-year-old Joan, the daughter of a close friend, can reconnect him with the memories of Sydney he is now in danger of losing for ever. Joan was born with a rare ability to recall every single day of her life in perfect detail, and in return for sharing her memories of Sydney, Gavin will help her write a song for a local competition. For Joan has had enough of being the girl who can’t forget – she wants to be the girl who will never be forgotten . . .

Charming, beautifully observed, poignant and funny, The Reminders by actor and musician Val Emmich is an irresistible story of the unlikely friendship between a grief-stricken man who can’t remember and a ten-year-old girl who can’t forget.

The Review

The Reminders by Val Emmich is one of the quirkiest books that I have read in a long time. It centres on the unusual friendship of Gavin and Joan. Gavin is an actor who has recently lost his boyfriend and he isn’t coping with the loss. Joan is a ten year old girl who has HSAM – a condition which means that she remembers everything that happens to her. Gavin and Joan form an unlikely alliance; Gavin has Joan tell him stories about Sydney and Joan has Gavin help her write a song for a competition that she is desperate to enter because Joan wants to be remembered the way she remembers everything.

The Reminders is a wonderful story of loss and grief and, in a sense, a coming of age tale. Emmich has managed to create a very realistic and believable situation with his two protagonists and maintains clear narrative voice for them both. There is a massive heart at the centre of The Reminders which makes it a likeable one-sitting read.

The Reminders by Val Emmich is available now.

For more information regarding Val Emmich (@ValEmmich) please visit www.valemmich.com.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan.com) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

4 Stars

What Belongs to YouTitle: What Belongs to You

Author: Garth Greenwell

Pages: 204 Pages

Author: Picador

The Blurb

On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher walks down a staircase beneath Sofia’s National Palace of Culture, looking for sex. Among the stalls of a public bathroom he encounters Mitko, a charismatic young hustler. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, and their trysts grow increasingly intimate and unnerving as the enigma of this young man becomes inseparable from that of his homeland, Bulgaria, a country with a difficult past and an uncertain future.

Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You is a stunning debut about an American expat struggling with his own complicated inheritance while navigating a foreign culture. Lyrical and intense, it tells the story of a man caught between longing and resentment, unable to separate desire from danger, and faced with the impossibility of understanding those he most longs to know.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

What Belongs to You was touted as being this year’s A Little Life. I loved A Little Life, it was a book that I completely fell in love with and it is also a book that broke me in more ways than I knew was actually possible. What Belongs to You was not A Little Life.

The story follows an unnamed narrator who as he embarks on an illicit affair with Mitko, a young man who is selling himself for sex. Things become complicated when we realise the narrator is looking for companionship which is something that Mitko is not really offering…unless the price is right.

My problem with What Belongs to You is that it felt forced. By this I mean that the author is employing as many dark and twisty techniques to the narrative rather than focusing on the story. It is very much a style over substance books i.e. unnamed narrator, a 30 page chapter that consists of one paragraph.

I felt that What Belongs to You became a chore to read and I didn’t have that ‘I can’t put this damn book down’ feeling when reading it.

What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell is available now.

Follow Garth Greenwell (@GarthGreenwell) on Twitter. For further information regarding Garth Greenwell then visit his official website www.garthgreenwell.com

For more Picador titles please visit www.picador.com

2 Stars

Lost for WordsThe Blurb

From the bestselling author of the Patrick Melrose novels, this is a thought-provoking and entertaining insight into a sniping world of literature, celebrity culture and ambition.

Each of the judges of the Elysian Prize for literature has a reason for accepting the job. For the chairman, MP Malcolm Craig, it is backbench boredom, media personality Jo Cross is on the hunt for a ‘relevant’ novel, and Oxbridge academic Vanessa Shaw is determined to discover good writing. But for Penny Feathers of the Foreign Office, it’s all just getting in the way of writing her own thriller.

Over the next few weeks they must read hundreds of submissions to find the best book of the year, and so the judges spar, cajole and bargain in order that their chosen title gets the recognition it deserves. Meanwhile, a host of authors are desperate for Elysian glory, including brilliant writer and serial heart-breaker Katherine Burns, lovelorn debut novelist Sam Black, and Sonny, convinced that his magnum opus, The Mulberry Elephant, will take the literary world by storm.

Lost for Words is razor-sharp and fabulously entertaining. It cuts to the quick of some of the deepest questions about the place of art in our celebrity-obsessed culture, and asks how we can ever hope to recognize real talent when everyone has an agenda.

The Review

Lost for Words is another one of those books that I requested on NetGalley because it looked interesting. By that I mean that the cover looked interesting. Lost for Words – like the cover – is in fact, interesting. It is a humorous parody on celebrity culture and how we use our status to value our own existence.  Lost for Words is a funny book.

The interwoven storylines are entertaining and shows St Aubyn’s skill at writing. I personally found that I didn’t connect with the characters but I think that was an intentional point – the characters are so transparent and vapid that it is hard to root for them. Clever St Aubyn.

Overall, Lost for Words is a funny satirical take on modern day society and the importance that we place on celebrity culture. Well worth a read.

Lost for Words by Edward St Aubyn is available now.

3 Stars