Fifteen year-old Maggie arrives in London on the run from her humdrum suburban life, determined to make it big in show business.
For more than thirty years she is exploited by both men and the media. She struggles against endless set-backs and disappointments, always remaining optimistic, always believing that this time her big break has come. Then, when most of us would have given up all hope, the celebrity circus rockets her to bizarre and unexpected pinnacles of fame.
Starting in 1970 Maggie de Beer’s journey mirrors the rise of celebrity culture and the growth of the media which ruthlessly created it, exploiting and destroying the lives of girls like Maggie who willingly offered themselves up, happy to make any amount of personal sacrifices in exchange for a chance to live the dream. She is determined to make herself “interesting” and only when she finally achieves her goal, at enormous personal cost, does she discover, under the full glare of the media spotlight, that the family she was running away from was never as humdrum as she had believed.
“This, I thought as the chauffeured car slid me back from Park Lane to Earls Court behind darkened windows, is what life must have been like for party girls like Christine Keeler in the sixties. I had found my Xanadu, the place where I was meant to be …”
It's an amazing story about an incredible woman, and has a very moving ending.
The brilliance in this `show and tell all' story is the character of Maggie, a strong and, in her way, courageous woman. She talks about `paying her dues' in the business, working for years in various aspects of show business waiting for her big break. She capitalises on her sex appeal and has stints as a Benny Hill girl - for those of you who are too young to know who Benny Hill is, he was a comedian whose show featured a lot of buxom young woman showing a lot of skin - and roles in revues and pantomimes. When show biz is slow, she pays the rent by being an escort, one perfectly willing to provide extras.
Maggie's story is of the seedier aspects of show business and she gives up a lot to keep the dream alive. Sometimes, I thought she was in the unfortunate position of the untalented thinking herself talented, but I always admired her single minded pursuit of her goals. She was one of the many in show business who just missed out on the better opportunities - like authors who almost get published - and had to take the lesser work or give up. But she didn't give up as most in her situation do. Even as she grew older, she kept her faith that one day her time would come. As a reader, I wasn't so sure, but I also realised that however it ended for Maggie this was still going to be a great story.
The end blew my mind because, not only was it totally unexpected, it was about much more than making it or not making it in show business. It was about an older woman discovering her place in the world, the real reasons for her family's reclusive nature, and what is really important in life. This really is a `must read'. I give it 5 stars and a place in the Awesome Indies listing.
Five Star Amazon Review
I wouldn't hesitate in recommending this read to anyone, whatever your reading habits: From the really gritty writing to the clever twists and turns, and the believable characteristation and highly entertaining wit. I can't imagine anyone wouldn't enjoy a trip to the inner world of Maggie de Beer.
And by the end, I wasn't ready to say goodbye and was even hoping there might be a follow up ...
Words with Jam
The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride
by Andrew Crofts
The story of a girl who becomes a soap star and national treasure overnight, only to discover from media revelations that nothing about her family life is as she imagined.
Beautifully written, well paced and a real page turner' sums this book up in cliches, but there is much more to say about it. Although the subject matter is very different, this book is as much a tale of our time as 'A Kind of Loving' is of the late 1950s. And in telling it in the first person, Crofts keeps you as close and as sympathetic to Steffi as Barstow does with Vic Brown. All the other characters are truly believable and the twists in the plot entirely credible. Crofts doesn't mince his language, but the swearing is carefully placed and right in character. Don't let the girly-pink cover put you off - this is a punchy story that will appeal to men and women alike.
by Andrew Crofts
(House of Stratus)
The first in a series of crime thrillers centered around the life
of a ghostwriter and featuring some stolen breasts and a surprising
number of Filipino girls called Doris.. Read the first chapter Buy
Shoes by Jimmy Nail (ghosted)
(Simon & Schuster)
Novelisations of the hit TV series in two books published in 1996.
by Ken Follett, Maeve Binchy, Joanna Trollope, Susan Howatch et
Written by a dozen literary stars in aid of the Dyslexia Institute.
Each author wrote one chapter of a story set on P&O's liner,
Oriana, and my task was to edit them into a smooth-flowing story.
by Sean Martin Blain (ghosted)
(Michael Joseph & Signet)
A detective thriller written in collaboration with an Irish corporal.
by Sean Martin Blain (ghosted)
A follow up to The Java Man.
Jumps straight into the top ranks of contemporary thriller
writers - a highly unusual thriller and a marvelous read