Belle Murphy was supposed to be Hollywood's hottest young star, but it all fell apart when her latest movie flopped spectacularly. To try and get herself back into the media's good books, Belle heads off to London, via an African adoption agency, to star in Shakespeare. Can she claw her way back to the top of the Hollywood pile again? Darcy Prince is a beautiful English rose, who has her heart set on being a "proper" actress, when the call comes from Hollywood - LA's hottest director wants her in his new movie. A movie that will rival Star Wars. It's everything an actress should ever want, so why is Darcy so reluctant to go? Via a lot of mix-ups, the two girls eventually lock horns over men, dieting and just which one of them is the bigger star. Throw in a nanny, a chef, and a boy so beautiful he could be a model, and you have a fiery encounter just waiting to happen.
Although my synopsis above mentions Darcy and Belle, they don't even appear at the beginning of the book. Belle comes in around about 20 pages in, whilst Darcy doesn't arrive until maybe 100-ish pages. I found that peculiar, but not off-putting. The book actually starts by introducing us to Sam Wild, who runs Wild, a modelling agency. After scouring the streets for any talent, she bumps into a bollard and comes face-to-face with the beautiful Orlando. After asking him if he would like to be a model, he scarpers, leaving Sam feeling frustrated. We then meet Emma, who it turns out, is a nanny, who has just left her parents' home up North and is looking for a job in London. We then go on to meet a whole array of characters throughout the book, who all seem to lead separate lives to each other. And for near-on 500 pages, that's the way it stays. Sure, a few of their lives intertwine but to all intents and purposes they're all leading their own life with no connection to anyone else we read about. It took a long long time for Belle and Darcy to lock horns and even then, it wasn't as if they were clawing each others eyes' out.
Coming it at under 700 pages, you're in for a long slog of reading to really get anywhere in the book. For the first 500 pages, the book is all about the separate lives of all of these characters. There's little action yet I still found myself reading away, eager to know which stupid thing would happen next. All of the major action begins when all of the characters leave, en masse, for Italy. You could say it was convenient they all, near enough, ended up in the same place but it all made perfect sense when we learnt why they were all there. As I mentioned above, Darcy and Belle barely lock horns, and I think the synopsis on the back of the book wildly exaggerated that fact.
Beautiful People is well worth reading, and I found it hugely enjoyable, and I know I'll definitely be looking out for more books by Wendy Holden. Her take on the celebrity lifestyle is refreshing and it's hugely exaggerated but it's also hilarious and enjoyable. It's as if she's taken all of the recent celebrity headlines - ie. adopting a child from Africa - and has put them all together into one huge melting pot of a novel and let the chips fall where they may. Very clever and I truly recommend it.