A Woman of Integrity by J. David Simons

British film star, Laura Scott’s is the other side of fifty and the last film role she had was for the voice of an animated fish. She’s become financially embarrassed and doesn’t want to reduce herself further and head into a sitcom position like her friend. So when an American producer says he wants her for a play about one of her favourite stars of the silent screen, things look like they are turning around. However, she soon realises, there’s more to integrity than simply drawing a line between your heart and your art.

I never like to give plot lines away and I won’t here. It’s enough to say, this story is about two actresses, one of which intends to play the other in a play and we get to read the manuscript of the latter’s autobiography interspersed throughout the tale. It’s the manuscript she’ll get hold of later on after dealing with a little dishonesty, treachery and soul searching along the way.

I don’t think it needs pointing out that it’s a book about two women written by a man, but I do point it out because I think he did a surprisingly good job. If I’d guessed the author’s gender I would have said female because it is insightful and often explicit in a way you’d expect an Alice Munro story to be.

Laura Scott has integrity, so did Georgie Hepburn and both of them have to wrestle with maintaining it. The story is fluid and enjoyable and kept me reading. My only qualm with the story would be that I was expecting a big reveal, but I don’t feel like this was delivered. The way the two stories run parallel together gives you the impression that at some point a fusion will occur, but it doesn’t. Of course, it doesn’t, it’s a sensible British story not some piece of Hollywood Tomfoolery!

Ultimately, this story already has that tingly, BBC one, lottery funded, BAFTA winning actresses kind of feel to it. It’s very British, set in North London and you can hear Emma Thompson’s voice coming off the pages. I closed the book with a pleasant sigh. Well, that was rather nice…

Expected publication: March 16th 2017

Freight Books

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