Looking for a love story with a difference? I found that in Alex Brunkhorst’s novel, The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine. It’s described as a modern-day Gatsby with hints of Daphne Du Maurier. I wouldn’t go so far as the Du Maurier – it didn’t have that gothic gloom underpinning the mystery – but it echoes Gatsby in its sparkling descriptions of wealth and opulence that in the end can’t buy happiness. Here’s the blurb:
The story begins with a dinner party invitation. When young journalist Thomas Cleary is sent to dig up quotes for the obituary of a legendary film producer, the man’s eccentric daughter offers him entrée into the exclusive upper echelons of Hollywood society. A small-town boy with working-class roots, Thomas is a stranger in this opulent world of private jets and sprawling mansions.
Then he meets Matilda Duplaine. Matilda is a beautiful and mysterious young woman who has never left the lush Bel-Air estate where she was raised. Thomas is immediately entranced by the enigmatic girl and the two begin a secret love affair. But what starts as an enchanted romance soon unravels a web of secrets and lies that could destroy their lives—and the lives of everyone around them—forever.
Filled with unforgettable characters and charm, The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine is a sparkling love letter to Los Angeles and a captivating journey beyond the golden gates of its most glamorous estates. Timeless, romantic and utterly absorbing, it is a mesmerizing and poignant exploration of life’s unexpected riches.
A story of excess, luxury and glamour with an element of magical realism that befits the image Hollywood, a place of dreams, The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine is an engaging and entertaining read. From Matilda with her odd ways and sense of entitlement to working-class writer Thomas who’s thrust into greatness, from elusive movie stars to powerful movie makers, the book is filled with interesting and captivating characters that will keep readers turning pages.
Thomas is drawn to Matilda’s innocent ways, but when she leaves the estate with him for a month in Hawaii, she changes before his eyes. Where is the child-like woman he fell in love with? It’s an interesting comment on how people change over time and how this can affect relationships. Readers will need to suspend disbelief a little but hey, anything goes in Hollywood.
A story of mystery and romance with a touch of bling, The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine leaves readers wondering, hoping, and dreaming. Not a bad place to be at the end of a book.
Read an extract here.
Available from good bookstores (RRP $29.99AUD). My copy was courtesy of Harlequin Australia via JAM PR.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television