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Adored    by Tilly Bagshawe order for
by Tilly Bagshawe
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

This book felt like a wonderful throwback to the era of escapist novels where the rich, beautiful, famous and ruthless set operates in the powerful and glamorous world of filmmaking and fashion (think Jackie Collins). Adored is Bagshawe's debut novel and it stars Siena McMahon, who is the granddaughter of Hollywood legend Duke McMahon. Like her grandfather, Siena wants to pursue a career in film and 'make it big.' However, her parents have other plans for her, and they ship her off to an English boarding school when she is only ten years old.

Siena is extremely ambitious and determined to make her way into acting, but her father wants her to ultimately attend Oxford and pursue a career in medicine which is a bit odd as dad is also in the film business. Unfortunately, Siena's father, who is jealous of the closeness his daughter has always shared with Duke, thinks that he can realize his goals for Siena by placing her in boarding school, out of Duke's reach. Siena is the 'apple of Duke's eye' while Duke never has paid much mind to his own son. Though Siena's mother does not want to send her daughter away, she is too meek to go against her husband's wishes.

Despite being stuck in boarding school in cold, wet England, Siena keeps focused on her true desire to make it into the film business. She starts modeling and a humble beginning quickly rockets her to supermodel status and the chance to break into acting. Siena experiences fame and realizes her dreams but she also realizes that there is a cost for everything, and she tramples on competitors, friends and even family to get where she feels she needs to go. Siena's father wants nothing to do with her, since she has gone against his wishes. However, Siena is too wrapped up in her own world of wealth, fame and beauty to worry about what she believes to be her parents' insensitivity and pettiness.

Despite Siena's self-serving and sometimes ruthless nature, she does have a conscience. She maintains a tenuous, but special, relationship with her 'Uncle Hunter' (Duke's illegitimate son borne by his mistress Caroline a few years before Siena was born). Hunter and his childhood friend (also Siena's love interest) Max move in and out of her life throughout the story. Rounding out the book are interesting secondaries - Duke's prim and proper wife Minnie, Duke's mistress Caroline, Hunter and his girlfriend Tiffany, Max, and Max's half-brother and his family in England.

This is an engrossing read with an epic feel. Siena's life and the lives of the McMahon family unfold throughout this thick, sweeping novel, in which a glamorous Hollywood setting, interesting characters, and volatile relationships make up for any lack of depth. I recommend the novel to fans of contemporary fiction, women's fiction, and of the old, juicy Jackie Collins and Judith Krantz novels. Grab a cold drink, your beach chair, and a copy of Adored to begin a satisfying summer of reading.

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