Reviews of today’s New Media

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Bitter Fame – Emma Lee

Bitter Fame CoverBitter Fame

Emma Lee

ISBN 978-1-84923-764-2

228 Page paperback


Ellen Davies peered out of the blackout-lined curtains at her bedroom window.  The absence of journalists was welcome.  They’d called themselves journalists, but Ellen had learnt they were essentially freelancing paparazzi who’d often tailed Carla James.  Their absence also reminded her it was the inquest into Carla James’s death today…


So begins Bitter Fame by Emma Lee.  The premise of the book is interesting, a woman running from an abusive relationship buys a house owned by an enigmatic couple who have both recently died under suspicious circumstances.  He was a rock musician, she was a television star, and far from finding privacy to lick her wounds, Ellen finds herself thrust into the spotlight of celebrity by proxy.


The interesting part of this book is that it is set in a parallel universe where the Revolutionary War didn’t occur.  America is still a British colony.   Californians use formal English and pay for things in pounds sterling.  OK, so it’s not deliberately set in this parallel universe.  If I had tried to write a book set in Australia without ever having been there or knowing how they spoke, I’m sure it would have had some of the same out of place phrasing that dots this book.  For instance, here’s a description of Ellen discovering a church that houses battered women:


She watched a milk float dawdle along past a line of what were once grand houses but now subdivided into flats and bedsits by landords that didn’t bother doing much more than collect the rent.  She smelt but didn’t bother turning to look at a snacks van, the owner busy frying onions to drum up breakfast trade.  Opposite her was a church with a sign on the door stating it was now “St. Theresa’s Chamber”.  Ellen guessed that meant it had been converted into loft style apartments with the churchyard now a residents’ car park.


Despite the wording (or perhaps because of it), Bitter Fame is a good read.  You find yourself sympathizing with Ellen’s plight and as she befriends the daughter the famous couple left behind, you root for her to solve the mystery and confront her own demons.  In the end, I ended up enjoying the  book.  The theme of dysfunctional celebrities, over-eager paparazzi, and even domestic violence turn out to be more universal than the language used to describe them.


October 24, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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