Book Review – The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine

by Alex Brunkhorst
Started: 25th September 2015
Finished: 30th September 2015

I received this book through NetGalley and was excited to start it, the premise of the novel sounded so interesting and somewhat Gatsby-esque. I wasn’t disappointed, especially after reading 60% of it during one commute… If my journey was longer I could have easily read it in one day.

The novel follows journalist Thomas Cleary, who left the Wall Street Journal after things went horribly wrong and is now trying to make a new start in LA. He’s given the story of the death of Hollywood legend Joel Goldman. After meeting his daughter Lily he’s quickly swept up into the glamorous life of the Hollywood elite. Life has never been so good for Thomas, until he accidentally stumbles across one of the biggest secrets kept in Hollywood, Matilda Duplaine.

I really liked the characters in this novel, Thomas was an interesting protagonist. He wasn’t without his faults but I enjoyed seeing how he would react to certain stories and interact with the various characters. I guess you could say there was a Nick Carraway feel to him, being caught up in the glamorous world that he’s not supposed to fit in with yet remaining the obvious outsider. I also liked Matilda, not all the time but most, and the very different way she viewed the world with a childlike innocence. I would have liked to have seen more of Lily Goldman, she felt like such an important character. Although the novel wasn’t about her, I could have quite happily read a book just about her life.

The plot wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but I adored it. It just worked really well and isolation is a subject that has always fascinated me in terms of writing. It wasn’t exactly a standard romance which I liked and I felt the ending was really fitting. I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself once the book had ended. Considering what happened at the Wall Street Journal was quite important I was surprised it was only ever really explained once. I’m also unsure of how essential Willa’s role in the novel was and there are a couple of scenes that I didn’t feel were completely necessary, but at the same time it was an interesting balance.

Overall I felt the novel had good pacing and was well written, the chapters varied in length and I found that quite engaging. I also liked the changes in location which kept things fresh. It is definitely one I would recommend and I would love to check out more of the author’s work.

Rating: 4.5/5

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