the latest books and a Great Read from Caroline Overington
In Caroline Overington’s brilliantly pacey new thriller we are kneedeep in the very familiar demi-monde of breakfast TV and the tabloid hysteria that surrounds its overpaid stars. And while her characters are not exactly
Lisa Wilkinson, Sam Armytage, Georgie Gardner, Karl Stefanovic, Kerri-Anne Kennerley et al, there’s an element of all of them in there. This is a media bubble the author clearly knows intimately and the intricate details of life behind the cameras – the sniping, the stalkers, the paparazzi, the punishing early mornings, the fictitious tabloid media tales, the callous sociopaths who run the networks and their ruthless pursuit of ratings – are what make this novel sing.
Emma Cardwell is a harassed mum of three and the approachable anchor of Stellar Network’s breakfast TV show
Cuppa. In the past year, following retrenchment, Emma’s hubby, handsome Texan Brandon, has morphed into stay-at-home dad, dabbling in the stock market from his domestic man cave with ample help with the kids from nanny Lena. Meanwhile, Emma has seen her previously top-rating show pummelled into second place by rival network’s breezy pretender Brew, with its perky host, the former reality TV show star Cassie Clay.
The novel opens with a lost toddler in a shopping centre and very quickly we realise this toddler is Emma’s little girl, Fox-Piper – one of the author’s many tongue-in-cheek and often laugh-outloud jabs at the fatuous universe these celebrities inhabit. Fox appears to have been abducted from her day care centre and the circus that ensues sparks a gripping roller-coaster ride with gutsy ironic twists. The immediacy of the writing probably has a lot to do with Caroline’s plot approach, strapping in for the ride as she writes. “I knew that Emma would turn up at the child care centre and her daughter would not be there. But I didn’t know anything else,” she tells The Weekly. “I didn’t know whether she’d been taken; whether something had happened to her and they were trying to cover it up; whether it was people at child care, or from TV world, or from Emma’s own family ... I just let it all come pouring out.”
The result is fun and thrilling, but also presents a bitingly satirical window on a lost cosmos.