Red Carpet Burns
Uncorrected proof copy courtesy of Harlequin AUS
Georgia Cassimatis is a half-Australian half-Greek girl who works editing a magazine for ‘tweens’ when she meets the gorgeous and charismatic Simon. An Australian who moved to the US years ago for work, Simon is in town to shoot a million dollar commercial for a beer and although she felt he originally wasn’t her type, it wasn’t long before Simon and Georgia were living a champagne life of luxury in the ‘Toaster’ building in Sydney’s Circular Quay.
But then Simon has to go back to the US and after months of doing the long-distance thing, Georgia jacks in her job and moves in with Simon in his California home. Simon agrees to provide her with a car and cover her rent and bills for six months so that she can find a job and Georgia is equal parts excited and terrified about her huge life change. Especially seeing as when she gets there, the Simon she has been treated to before seems to have gone AWOL, leaving a whole new Simon in his place.
As their relationship slowly tanks, Georgia is left to fend for herself. Making her way as a journalist who mostly writes pieces on “Aussies done good in America” she also finds herself interviewing celebrities, meeting psychic gurus and palling up with the local Aussie Posse. She has managed to survive in one of the toughest towns to make it in…. Los Angeles. And it isn’t long before she realises that she’s fallen in love with her new city. At the crossroads where she can either decide to go home and settle in Australia or stay and continue on her way, Georgia reflects on her life in America and the many ups and downs she’s had since she came over. From a feeling of utter loneliness and alienation to realising that she’s beginning to call this country home, a sprinkling of the famous and notorious characters she’s become acquainted with along the way and some examining of love and relationships, her memoir lays life in LA bare.
Red Carpet Burns seems like it’s suffering a little bit of an identity crisis. On the one hand, the pretty cover with the gorgeous dress screams glitzy chick lit. The inside disclaimer that this is a work of fiction and any resemblance to real people, living or dead is a coincidence, had me tackle it as a work of fiction. However a little way into it and I realised that it wasn’t. To be utterly honest, I think it would probably have worked better if it were more fictionalised.
Georgia herself is likable enough to start with but around the time she moves to America to be with Simon, I started to like her a little bit less. She is all loved up with him and has decided to take the huge leap but once she steps off the plane, seems to be having second thoughts. Then Simon turns out to be not Prince Charming, but a total tosser. However she stays with him for quite a long time, putting up with his emotional abuse, constant miserly ways and a plethora of other things that would have most people running for the hills. It was baffling to me that someone could change so utterly – when Georgia goes to visit Simon in California while they are doing long-distance, he splashes out money, is considerate and loving and shows her a fabulous time. When she moves there he basically stops caring about her before she even gets off the plane and this is never really satisfactorily addressed. Nor is it explained why Georgia doesn’t just turn around and get the first plane back home when it turns out that underneath the shiny exterior, Simon seems to be horrible. Why would she stay, trying to get jobs, driving some old crap car, being treated horribly? In Australia she had a good job, a good life, friends, a family she loved. I don’t get why she stays there. I know she ends up making friends and falling in love with LA but all of that comes later, after she has left Simon. It’s never really addressed why there’s this limbo period.
I also had some problems with the pacing and flow of the story. It seems to read like a disjointed narrative of memories as they pop into the author’s head. At times one memory abruptly ends only for her to begin recounting something totally unrelated and often from a different time period. The novel also name drops screamingly famous people but yet seems to give pseudonyms to others for reasons I cannot figure out. There’s also more geographical locations than a Lonely Planet guide to California.
I think one of the more frustrating things seemed to be that Georgia didn’t actually learn from her experience with Simon. She goes on to document another relationship that lasted for some time where the man was not as he seemed, disappeared constantly and treated her as less than equal. He also had a huge chip on his shoulder about being black and seemed to project his feelings about this onto Georgia and her family, even though he’d never met them. The whole conversation where he tells her that her family wouldn’t approve of her dating a black man was offensive and should have been enough for her to heed the red flags about him. But she doesn’t and this continues on.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of enjoyment out of this read. It was bad enough when I believed they were all characters, realising that they were real and that people actually act like this was too depressing for words. However there are plenty of others out there that have enjoyed this one far more than I… so maybe in the terms of this one, it’s not you book, it’s me.
Book #41 of 2013
**Please note my copy was an uncorrected proof and the final version may be different,
Red Carpet Burns is the 20th novel read and reviewed for AWW2013