The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
|The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A good plot about the film industry and leukaemia, but written in letter form which didn't really work.One to borrow rather than buy if you feel you must read it.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 336||Date: March 2005|
|Publisher: Pocket Books|
In fairness to this book it was a mistake to read it immediately after reading Carrie Fisher's Delusions of Grandma, which wasn't a great book but was well-written and very readable even if it didn't have a lot in the way of plot. Both books are about Hollywood and the film industry and I was left with the feeling of having wandered back onto the same set which was populated with different actors.
Olivia Hunt has just been sacked by a film company and as the book opens she's on the fourth draft of her suicide note when her father rings and tells her that her sister Maddie has an acute form of leukaemia. Olivia flies home to Ohio and her family. She had given up her dream of making a film of "Don Quixote" but Maddie persuades her not to give up so easily. We follow the family through sixteen months as Maddie fights leukaemia, Olivia struggles to make the film and to make something (or give up) her relationship with Michael, an artist living in New Mexico.
The plot is good. It's about struggle against overwhelming odds, about struggling when there's really very little chance of success. Maddie fights the leukaemia despite the fact that sometimes the treatment - chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants - seem worse than the illness she's fighting, but she never gives up. Olivia meets obstacle after obstacle in producing Don Quixote - itself a four-hundred-year-old story of a man fighting a lost cause. As for the relationship with Michael - what chance does it have when all he wants is to paint in New Mexico when her job keeps her in Hollywood?
Characterisation is good if not excellent. Olivia is shallow and self-centred, a mirror of the industry in which she works, whilst Maddie is more caring. I was less convinced by the men in the story, who all seemed two-dimensional. Michael, in particular, never really convinced me and I never really had any sense of a spark between the two. What did come across well was the relationship between the two sisters - the fights, the problems of growing up together when they had very different personalities, but above all the love and support.
Elisabeth Robinson is an independent film producer and screenwriter. She worked on Braveheart and Last Orders. The background to the film industry is fascinating and occasionally scurrilous - I'd like to say that I can't believe that people would behave in the way that they do in this book, but unfortunately I can believe it. Robbie Williams and John Cleese star in Don Quixote and this did add verisimilitude to the book. Occasionally it verged on satire.
So, why am I not that keen on the book? Well, it's written in letter form and I don't think it worked at all well. Sometimes similar letters were sent to different people and occasionally there was just too much description. I frequently found myself skimming whole pages. I wanted to know what happened but I really resented all the superfluous reading that I had to do to find out. It's very funny in parts and moving in others. Unfortunately quite a lot of it is downright boring.
There are some scenes which are sexually explicit but nothing to shock and there's nothing in the way of violence. It's Elisabeth Robinson's first novel and I'd like to think that she'll write more as it's a good story with more depth than the average chick-lit book. If you're interested in the Hollywood scene then you might enjoy Carrie Fisher's Delusions of Grandma. If you're interested in the problems associated with leukaemia in a fictional context then you might like to read Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson at Amazon.com.
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