Sunday, August 10, 2014

Being Audrey Hepburn: A Novel by Mitchell Kriegman

Being Audrey Hepburn: A Novel by Mitchell Kriegman
Expected Publication Date: September 16, 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin
Hardcover, 336 pages
Received from publisher through NetGalley -- thanks!

Lisbeth is the ultimate Audrey Hepburn fan. She's watched Breakfast at Tiffany's more times than she can count and her best friend Jess knows this. So when Jess, who works at the Met, discovers that the classic Givenchy dress from Breakfast at Tiffany's is at the museum on loan, she invites Lisbeth to take a peek at it, knowing how much she's in love with all things Audrey Hepburn. But unable to stop herself, Lisbeth ends up trying on the iconic dress and then? Things get a bit crazy. All of a sudden, Lisbeth's thrown into the world of the rich and famous - a lifestyle far, far from her simple one back in New Jersey. How long will she be able to keep up the charade of pretending to be who she's not (hint: rich and famous)? 

I truthfully just picked this up because it had Audrey Hepburn in the title. Maybe this wasn't such a good reason to pick this book up but hey, Audrey Hepburn is fantastic. Can you really blame me for having my interest piqued whenever she's mentioned?

This book is all about the rich and famous, the glitz and glamour and you guys, I am SO on that.
I love reading about celebrities which is probably why I gobbled up the L.A. Candy series and Secrets of My Hollywood Life series like nobody's business. I'm not exactly sure when I started to be so interested and I guess, knowledgeable about celebrities but it might have roughly been when I was seven or six and had nothing else to watch except for E! News. I don't still watch it (is it still on?) because priorities - there are a billion other shows out there I would rather watch. Anyway, this is just to say that I've always been a bit interested in the world of celebrities. I used to like to pretend I was famous and now I really AM famous, though it's only in the Kardashian game (#1, baby!). In reality though, being famous would be nice but there are just so many responsibilities that come with that. Would I ever have time to just laze around and not do anything? So yeah, I don't think I'd ever pursue fame purposefully but it sure is nice to get caught up in the glam part of things with books and pretend that you're living the all star life which is kinda what Lisbeth is doing here. 

See, Lisbeth isn't famous or rich. She's just a simpleton from New Jersey who, in a series of events, happens to get caught up with the rich and famous. And well, it's hard to stay away from that when it all looks so GLAMOROUS. So Lisbeth enlists the help of her fashion savvy friend, Jess to dress her for all the fancy galas she has to attend now that she's a quasi-celebrity and the plus-one of her new friend and REAL celebrity, pop singer Tabitha Eden. Of course, you have to suspend your disbelief when reading because what are the chances this actually happens to someone who's not a character in a book? But it's all in good fun because once you get past that initial hurdle of "this is really bizarre", you can start enjoying yourself! And get caught up with the whole celebrity thing like I did. 

So you know, a really fun and interesting idea to start off this book and a really fun and interesting setting! But unfortunately, that's kinda where my enthusiasm for this book ends...

I liked Lisbeth until I didn't.
She was good for the first few chapters and I really did like her. I was doing my whole "I wish she were my BFF" spiel but then she just got incredibly annoying, delusional and selfish. Maybe that was to be expected given the circumstances but still, it doesn't make me want to punch her any less. I don't really want to go into detail about why I thought the things I did because that might be a spoiler but let's just say that she totally blew off all of her Jersey friends for her new, shinier famous friends which is very annoying. And of Jess, well, she used her. Big time. And all of this was for naught because girl, do you really think you can keep up this charade forever? And that was the biggest reason why all this bugged me so much. All the pretending to be famous was good and fun for the first few days but then Lisbeth was just digging her own deathbed. All of it was going to blow up in her face because how could it not? So it was something like torture to see her turn her back on her REAL friends and REAL life for something that wasn't REAL and probably wouldn't last for very long.

The story got a bit repetitive after a while and I was bored.
The first few bits were really fun and I liked seeing Lisbeth getting all dressed up for these fancy events but when it was JUST that over and over again, it got a bit tired. Like it was Tabitha invites Lisbeth to another party, Lisbeth asks Jess to make her another dress for the date, Lisbeth goes to the part, Lisbeth realizes she forgot the plans she already made with one of her ACTUAL friends/she totally forgot about her mom and family, things happen but it's okay and then rinse and repeat.

But then, in the last 100 or so pages, crazy things started to happen.
All of a sudden, there was all this DRAMA that came about with some really great ideas that could have been potentially explored a bit deeper but it was just a little too late. By then, there wasn't one ounce of me that really cared what happened and by then, the rapid succession at which the new developments in the story came about in made the story seem even more implausible than it really was. Like why didn't all this happen earlier? I'm fairly certain that would have made the second third of the book much more enjoyable for me. And another reason why I wish that that drama-filled last third were more evenly spread throughout the book (I'm not a writer, is that a reasonable thing to suggest?) is because all of it went away as fast as it came about. It was either touched upon and then ignored or it ended in a way that was really conveniently great for Lisbeth. And I'm not hating on happy endings but I mean, it kinda felt pointless to introduce so many new developments THAT late in the story without any of them really having an impact on the story. Except that Lisbeth FINALLY realized that you shouldn't pretend to be who you're not and blah blah blah and some other stuff about Audrey Hepburn that I didn't really get. Which was kinda obvious (not the Audrey Hepburn part, the "don't pretend to be who you're not). 

Also, this might be a minor thing but I really hated the name dropping.
It was kinda cute and funny for the first few chapters but after a while, it got annoying. I don't really think it's necessary to constantly allude to a celebrity like all the time. While certainly I can definitely picture a "Halle Berry-esque pixie cut" clearer than a "short and spunky haircut" (I'm paraphrasing here), it's not REALLY necessary. And Adam Levine was in a scene in this book? And he actually had lines? And he like put his arm around the waist of Lisbeth and everything and took a picture with her? And he had like a secret album coming out and everything? I don't know why this made me uncomfortably laugh so hard but it did. I wonder if he knows he's in this book... But anyway, this is probably a very stupid thing to pick on but just thought it would point it out. It didn't really detract me from the book that much but it definitely garnered many eye-rolls.

I really liked the idea of this book - the whole socialite and "celebutante" scene and getting caught up with them - and the first few chapters were truly enjoyable for me. I loved Lisbeth and thought she was total BFF material but then, everything kinda went downhill from there. I was bored for a good part of the book and thought it was a bit repetitive and then when things finally happened, I couldn't find it in me to care any more.

If you like Audrey Hepburn, you might enjoy Lisbeth and her Audrey Hepburn obsession. And if you like stories about Hollywood and famous people, this might be a fun book for you too.


Heather Anne @ Turning Pages gave it 4.5 stars: "I praise the author, Mitchell Kriegman, for writing such a fun and adventurous book. For this Audrey fan, I enjoyed this book from the beginning to the end."

Kathy @ A Glass of Wine says: "Lisbeth was s delight. She has a certain cleverness, and resourcefulness that made her winsome. She has her faults, and is sometimes self absorbed, but seeing her make those mistakes is what drives the novel. Learning from them is her character growth, and because of that I felt I understood her character."

Leah @ The Perks of Being a Bookworm says: "I’ve mentioned before how much I don’t like it when privileged kids moan about their lives. but other than that, this is a cute, holiday read which is perfect for people who love Audrey Hepburn, or who love someone like her, a brilliant icon that glitters and makes their lives better, it’s perfect for people who love fashion and New York city and it’s exactly the sort of book you’re going to want to lie on a beach with."

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