Little Known Facts
Copy courtesy Bloomsbury ANZ
Renn Ivins is a successful Hollywood star. He has a string of fabulous movies behind him, several gold statues in his trophy cabinet, a couple of ex-wives and two children. Renn has provided generously for his son Will and daughter Anna, setting them both up with trust funds but limiting the amount they can draw on each year, just so they don’t drain them all and end up with nothing.
Anna is just about to graduate from medical school and begin life as a doctor, just like her mother, Renn’s first wife. Steady, practical and quite down to earth, Anna is far removed from the Hollywood glitter and glamour and tends to downplay her connection to one of the world’s most known movie stars. She doesn’t tell people who her father is, although she’s sure most of them guess. Despite seeing her mother dumped by her father for another woman, Anna finds herself with a crush on her very married attending.
Will, Anna’s brother, is directionless in life. He’s done some college but he’s not sure what he wants to do, at all. He’s tried his hand at a string of things but nothing has stuck – Will is yet to find anything that interests him beyond a lifespan of a few months. Will is pondering law school when his father phones from a shoot in New Orleans, asking Will to come and be his (paid) private assistant until the end of the shoot. Will is reluctant – the last time he worked with his father, it didn’t end well. But he can’t say no, like most people to Renn and he finds himself on a plane, brushing up on the script, which Renn hopes will net him a Best Director. On the set of the movie, Renn meets the young female lead and finds himself in competition with one of those most charismatic men in the world – his own father.
I think it must be very difficult to be the offspring of a famous person and yet not be in the lifestyle yourself. In this novel, the children of Renn Ivins are not in the Hollywood scene. Anna is just finishing medical school and has worked hard to get where she wants to be for a long time. Will likewise has done his time at a college and is considering one of the Ivy Leagues for his law school. When he remarks he hasn’t quite got enough points to get into the school of his choice, it is remarked to him that he should get his father to make a phone call. After all, the Ivy Leagues love the offspring of famous people. But Will doesn’t want to do this. If he goes to law school, he wants to do it on his own. He’s happy to take the trust fund his father has set up for him, to buy a home, to live comfortably, as is Anna. But neither of them want to use his influence.
Will is in his mid-twenties, a time of action for a man. Most people his age have graduated, are working themselves up the ladders of their chosen careers or going on with post-grad studies. Will is in limbo, fickleminded and totally undecided what he wants to do with his life. His girlfriend Danielle is 30 and harbours a secret crush on Renn, which Will knows nothing about. And then Will meets Elise, the young star of Renn’s movie. He immediately develops a crush on her, but knows that she already belongs to his father. I felt a bit sorry for Will – it must be difficult to be 25, in the prime of your life really, with all the best laid out ahead of you and know that to most people, you’re second rate or choice, behind his father, who is in his fifties. It’s bad enough knowing that the woman that keeps you awake at night is your father’s girlfriend – it would’ve been even worse if he knew that it was his father that kept his own girlfriend awake at night as well! Needless to say, that relationship does not last long after Will gets back from New Orleans.
I think a lot of people have a fascination with how the other half, the rich and famous half, life. I know I do, to a certain extent. I love looking at pictures of homes, of fashion and imagining what it must be like to be able to just drop everything and fly to a beautiful tropical location for a holiday just because you want to. But then I think of all the other things that go along with it, the lack of privacy, the constant demands on your time and money (which Elise expounds upon beautifully in this book) and think to myself that maybe it’s not so glamorous and fun after all. This novel shows what it’s like to be stuck in the middle – not up there with the richest, but certainly not among those who have to work everyday to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. And at times, it meant it was a little hard to connect with the characters. While I could sometimes feel for them – distant, famous father who pulled women better than the son could, I also felt sometimes like they were unaware of what real issues really were. Anna, I think, was more grounded in reality than Will through her work as a doctor. Although I did find some of her choices unusual as well – she chose to repeat a pattern that had affected her parents, albeit in a different way.
I enjoyed reading about the characters and the secrets they were keeping throughout the duration of the book. When I finished however, I did wonder if the most dramatic reveal was left out. I would’ve liked a bit more interaction between Will and his father, a more in depth exploration of their relationship, especially given what happens towards the end of the novel.
Book #49 of 2013