Carla Caruso, Clique Media
Me and Miss M is a little The Devil Wears Prada in style. You know, young girl, struggling to make it, works for a crappy, mean boss, who makes her life a living hell.
But, in this case, instead of dealing with a cut-throat magazine editor a la Prada-ville, the protagonist (Fran) is a PA to a top actress, known as Caroline Mason, who has a daily list of demands as long as most hair extensions are long. (For some reason, when I pictured Caroline, my mind kept flitting between an image of Angelina Jolie and Victoria Beckham â€“ the latter when I remembered the actress was meant to be British. Not that I think they\’d be horrible bosses exactly& just because it helped me visualise the character!)
When I read The Devil Wears Prada though, I actually felt tired and stressed just reading it, in empathy for the poor main character. But I didn\’t feel this so much with Me and Miss M. From the start, you can tell Fran can stand up for herself and, with childhood ambitions of being an actress herself, she doesn\’t exactly seem meek. In this way, the story doesn\’t have as much “zing”.
As well â€“ perhaps being a first novel for British TV presenter-turned-author Jemma Forte â€“ the romance factor isn\’t as strong. I actually don\’t like Fran\’s love interest, Tom the vet, too much. His distaste for Fran\’s obsession with fame seems a little unbelievable. The character of top actor Carson â€“ Caroline\’s supposed lover â€“ is also rather two-dimensional.
Still, while there were some parts of the book that didn\’t quite work for me personally and while it took a little longer for me to get into, I still had a good, fun time reading it. Forte has a humorous, charming writing style that keeps you turning the pages. And, of course, any insight into the celebrity world is always intriguing. Some of the other characters were also quite inspired â€“ like Lorna the cheerful housekeeper and Raj, Fran\’s permanently stoned colleague.
Also interesting is that for Forte, the novel is a little like life imitating art. At the end, Forte thanks a friend, who helped her get her career start and an agent and championed her book (Fran has a similar such pal in the book), Forte acknowledges her own childhood ambitions of stardom (like Fran\’s), and she thanks her husband for inspiring the wedding scene, where Fran meets her beau. Wonder if Forte also go to the go to the Oscars like Fran did? Jealous, if so!
Available now:Â Penguin RRP$24.99