'Heartbreak, headlines and Hermes – welcome to Brooke’s new world… Brooke and Julian live a happy life in New York – she’s the breadwinner working two jobs and he’s the struggling musician husband. Then Julian is discovered by a Sony exec and becomes an overnight success – and their life changes for ever. Soon they are moving in exclusive circles, dining at the glitziest restaurants, attending the most outrageous parties in town and jetting off to the trendiest hotspots in LA. But Julian’s new-found fame means that Brooke must face the savage attentions of the ruthless paparazzi. And when a scandalous picture hits the front pages, Brooke’s world is turned upside down. Can her marriage survive the events of that fateful night at Chateau Marmont? It’s time for Brooke to decide if she’s going to sink or swim…'
‘Last Night at Chateau Marmont” is the story of Brooke, a regular, ordinary New Yorker whose life is turned upside down when Julian, her musician husband, finally gets his big break and quickly becomes very famous. Brooke is a nutritionalist, working two jobs to support Julian whilst he concentrates on his music career. Brooke has faith in her husband and knows that he’s very talented, but not even she believes that he’s really ever going to become a superstar.
Then, almost overnight, it happens: Julian’s suddenly hot property. His single is flying high in the charts and he’s touring America, appearing at major award shows and on national television. Before long Brooke finds herself loathing the gossip columns, columns she used to love poring over with her friend. She’s missing her husband, who always seems to be away; she’s in trouble at work because of all the time she’s had off to support Julian and she can’t go anywhere without being photographed. Worst of all, Julian seems to be changing into someone that Brooke really doesn’t like very much. Will Brooke, Julian and their marriage be able to survive Julian’s sudden rise to fame?
The book is written purely from Brooke’s point of view, which makes for a very personal account; the reader experiences everything with her and so really understands what she’s going through. Her reaction to Julian’s behaviour when he becomes famous is very cleverly written, and the reader understands Brooke’s reaction completely, whilst accepting that Julian could ultimately be forgiven, thanks to their knowledge of Brooke and of her relationship with her husband.
I have to admit that I wasn’t overly taken by the characters in this book; none of them really stood out for me or were very original, the only one who I thought might turn out to be really interesting was Nola, who we don’t get to find out anything about: her role in the book seems to be purely as a sounding board for Brooke. It would have been good to have seen a bit more of her and have her supporting Brooke a little more directly. Perhaps the most disappointing character was Brooke; I did like her, but at times she was so ‘normal’ that she just came across as a little boring. The way she deals with Julian’s fame is a little irritating: she whinges and isn’t very supportive, she never actually sits down with Julian and explains how she’s feeling, never tries to work out how to make it better.
The storyline of this book was original and engaging – yes, the ‘sudden celebrity’ thing has been done before, but I haven’t read anything dealing with how the star’s spouse in particular deals with it. The section concentrating on the time before Julian becomes famous was particularly well done – although not the most exciting section, it’s a very important part of the story, and serves as a wonderful contrast with the crazy life that the two end up with once Julian is well-known. It’s particularly good at showcasing how happy and content Brooke was, and how stable and secure their marriage was then.
I really like Lauren Weisberger’s writing, and this novel certainly kept me gripped until the very last page, but, for me, it wasn’t quite as good as her first novel, “The Devil Wears Prada’; everything else that she has produced since is very good, but just not quite in the same league.
"Three best friends. Two resolutions. One year to pull it off.
Emmy is newly single. Having always dreamed of wedding plans, she is now buying take-out for one.
Adriana is about to turn thirty. Are her days as a party girl running out?
Leigh has a gorgeous boyfriend and a great job. So why isn't she more excited about her perfect life?
The three best friends make a pact over raspberry mojitos one night - this year everything is going to change. Emmy is going to find a man on every continent for some no-strings fun. Adriana vows she'll secure a five-carat Harry Winston diamond ring on her fourth finger. And Leigh can't think of what she needs to change - until literary bad boy Jesse Chapman starts to get under her skin".
‘Chasing Harry Winston’ is the third novel of Lauren Weisberger, the authoress made famous by her debut ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ (now also a film starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep). Her books are generally fabulous and are immediately recognisable by the gorgeous covers, each printed with a different shoe design.
The story begins with best friends and New Yorkers Emmy, Adriana and Leigh approaching thirty and making a pact that during the next year they’ll improve something in their lives: Emmy will play the field more and forget about her horrible ex-boyfriend; Brazilian Adriana will leave her promiscuous lifestyle behind, get engaged and stop sponging off her wealthy parents; and Leigh will finally break up with her boyfriend – a man perfect in all ways, apart from the small fact that she doesn’t love him.
I really enjoyed the relationships between the three women; who were all so different to each other, yet worked so very well together. The characters were pretty glamorous, but very likeable, and Lauren made the story ‘down to Earth’ enough that it kept me empathising and interested. I also liked the fact that the protagonists’ concerns were not just about men, but encompassed their careers as well.
Leigh was a wonderful character: such a funny, prickly thing with her neuroses, but very clever and loyal to her friends. I liked reading about Leigh’s growing attraction to handsome author Jesse Chapman whose new book she’s been given the task of editing. Emmy was sweet and caring. She really reminded me of Charlotte from ‘Sex and the City’ with her romantic ideals and her desire to have many babies as soon as possible. Her ending was perfect and really made me laugh. The last of the trio, Adriana, was very funny, and I particularly enjoyed the scenes where she looks after Emmy’s parrot, but she was my least favourite character: she just seemed a little two-dimensional and her behaviour was so much like a spoilt child that she began to annoy me.
Having these three ladies living in New York, although hardly original, is perfect for the book, but I would have liked to have seen more of the places Emmy travels to for her work and which form the backdrop for her ‘Tour de Whore’! She visits some amazing countries and the little we see of them provides a wonderful contrast to Emmy’s life in the Big Apple.
For me, ‘Chasing Harry Winston’ wasn’t quite in the same league as ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ but I enjoyed it none the less. I know it really isn’t fair to continually compare later works with an author’s debut, but Weisberger really did something very special with her first book. In this offering, we have a good solid, satisfactory read: a colourful cast of characters keep the reader hooked, despite the fact that the storyline isn’t the most imaginative or engrossing that I’ve come across, and the novel is actually a lot more intelligent than the name suggests - this is not just a bunch of women after engagement rings. I’d happily read a sequel to find out what happens next to these fab ladies.
3 and a half stars