When the author of this book, approached me to ask for a review, my first thought was to decline because it wasn’t speculative fiction, but having been a performer for most of my working life, the subject matter intrigued me, so I accepted. I’m really glad I did because it’s an amazing story about an incredible woman, and has a very moving ending.
At 15 years old, Margaret left a stifling home life in a small town and moved to London where she reinvented herself as Maggie de Beer, a woman with a much more exotic past than she had in reality. Intent on becoming famous, her first major publicity came as one of the early scantily clad Page Three Girls for the Star, a London tabloid. From there, the novel, written in an autobiographical style appropriately like that of a tabloid scoop, takes us through the highs and lows of someone trying to ‘make it’ in show business.
The brilliance in this ‘show and tell all’ story is the character of Maggie, a strong and, in her way, courageous woman. She talks about ‘paying her dues’ in the business, working for years in various aspects of show business waiting for her big break. She capitalises on her sex appeal and has stints as a Benny Hill girl – for those of you who are too young to know who Benny Hill is, he was a comedian whose show featured a lot of buxom young woman showing a lot of skin – and roles in revues and pantomimes. When show biz is slow, she pays the rent by being an escort, one perfectly willing to provide extras.
Maggie’s story is of the seedier aspects of show business and she gives up a lot to keep the dream alive. Sometimes, I thought she was in the unfortunate position of the untalented thinking herself talented, but I always admired her single-minded pursuit of her goals. She was one of the many in show business who just missed out on the better opportunities – like authors who almost get published – and had to take the lesser work or give up. But she didn’t give up as most in her situation do. Even as she grew older, she kept her faith that one day her time would come. As a reader, I wasn’t so sure, but I also realised that however it ended for Maggie this was still going to be a great story.
From the blurb
Starting in 1970 Maggie de Beer’s journey mirrors the rise of celebrity culture and the growth of the media which ruthlessly created it, exploiting and destroying the lives of girls like Maggie who willingly offered themselves up, happy to make any amount of personal sacrifices in exchange for a chance to live the dream.
The end blew my mind because, not only was it totally unexpected, it was about much more than making it or not making it in show business. It was about an older woman discovering her place in the world, the real reasons for her family’s reclusive nature, and what is really important in life. This really is a ‘must read’. I give it 5 stars and a place in the Awesome Indies listing.
Click on the image to purchase this on Kindle.
Review by Tahlia Newland