The Gilded Life Of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Family secrets. Forbidden love. And the true price of wealth.
Thomas is a small-town boy and when Lily invites him to a dinner party, he gains access to the exclusive upper echelons of Hollywood society. As he enters a world of private jets and sprawling mansions, his life and career take off beyond his wildest dreams.
Then he meets Matilda Duplaine.
Beautiful and mysterious, Matilda has spent her entire life within the walls of her powerful father’s Bel-Air estate and Thomas is immediately entranced by her. But what starts as an enchanted romance soon threatens to destroy their lives and the lives of everyone around them.
I enjoyed this book more than I first thought I would. Initially it was a bit difficult to get into but once it got going it was an easy read. Although set in the modern day it had all the feel of the glitzy romantic Hollywood era. I loved the main character Thomas Cleary who goes to LA to restart his flagging career as a reporter on the New York Times. He is sent on a story to get some quotes and information for an obituary of famous film producer and meets his daughter Lily who owns an antiques shop. Lily immediately seems to connect with Thomas and she takes him under her wing. Through Lily Thomas experiences the wonderful world of Hollywood and meets some of it's legends when she invites him to a dinner to interview some of her fathers' friends. Being invited into this 'inner circle' of legends he is closer than any other reporter has been able to get and his career starts to take off.
Lily invites him to other social gatherings and he is invited to a special party one evening that he never manages to get to. He goes to the address he believes the party is being held in the Bel-Air home of David Duplaine a famous producer and meets Matilda his 19 year old daughter who he instantly falls in love with. Matilda he learns is very different to other girls and he discovers that she has never left the Bel-Air estate. They meet often in secret always at the estate but the inevitable happens and when David Duplaine discovers the meetings Thomas is banned from the estate and told never to return. In desperation Thomas persuades Matilda to run away with him and after confessing everything to Lily she helps them to go to Hawaii for a month in a house that her father owned.
Matilda is like a child experiencing everything for the first time, initially she clings to Thomas who has freed her from captivity but then she begins to want to fly the nest and does not want or need Thomas anymore. He has almost taken on the role of a parent to her child and like a child she needs to grow and experience things for herself. Thomas is hurt that she does not want to include him in her new friendships and while he spends a lot of his time alone in Lilys' fathers house he starts to piece together who Matilda is and eventually he discovers why she has been hidden away. He writes it all down, mainly to help him with the puzzle never intending to publish or tell anyone what he has found out. When they return to LA they are not the same people they were when they left a month before and their love affair has burnt out.
It is a lovely written book, very nice to have it narrated from the mans' perspective. It has all the nostalgic glamour of the Hollywood movie stars, the intrigue and pace of a good mystery and good descriptive passages that help transport you from the shores of Hawaii to the affluence of Bel-Air. I loved Lily and couldn't help but feel that she manipulated Thomas with the intention of freeing Matilda from her 'prison'because in many ways she had spent her life in a 'prison' herself and she didn't want Matilda to have suffered as she had.
It didn't have the 'happy ever after' ending that one might expect it to have had but it didn't disappoint either - I would give this a well deserved 4 stars for an enjoyable debut novel.
I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.