Review published on August 10, 2018.
The lure of Hollywood has always been magnetic, with its glamorous associations with film and show biz, but just as ever-present has been its dark underbelly, none more so magnified than in recent years.
Emma Dibdin’s timely novel, Through His Eyes, picks up on Janus-faced reality of Hollywood, as young wannabe entertainment journalist, Jessica Harris, tries to make her mark in the city of fallen angels. Jessica has long been a fan of the enigmatic actor Clark Conrad and when the opportunity comes to interview him, she pounces. She goes from being an outsider looking in to this prestigious world to finally finding herself in Hollywood’s inner sanctum, but is it all it’s cracked up to be and just what dark secrets does it hide?
The portrayal of Jessica’s starry-eyed wonder and awe is one that is really believable and easy to relate to and Dibdin very astutely depicts that one-sided relationship between fan and icon. The portrait of life in Hollywood as an aspiring journalist also feels authentic. However, the novel takes too long to get into its swing and the crux of the story is over too soon, not allowing for a rich or full development of the more crucial aspects of the narrative. It is a real shame as the story is one that is very relevant and vital right now but for me the pacing and balance undermined its power. Similarly, the characterisation of Clark and his daughter Skye, and even to some extent Jessica, felt underdeveloped and I was left feeling as if I didn’t really know or understand any of them. The subplots too failed to really get off the ground. If you want a behind-the-scenes take on Hollywood though and a novel very much of the current moment, this may be up your street, although it’s more morality tale or exposé than thriller or mystery.
J. Craddock 3/3
Through His Eyes by Emma Dibdin
Head of Zeus 9781786694065 hbk Aug 2018
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