Book review: The A-List Family by Christina Hopkinson

19 May

Imagine a world where your bikini body has to last all year.

Where paparazzi turn up for the school run.

Where EVERYBODY knows your name, and your eight-year-old daughter’s.

Welcome to everyday life in an A-List Family.

Newly employed to look after the daughter of a super-rich and famous power couple, Anna is about to find out what life is really like behind the closed doors of celebrity. And soon she starts to wonder: once you’re in, can you get out?

The A-List Family is a must read for celebrity gossip fans. Who doesn’t secretly love reading about the ups and downs of the rich and famous? I’m sure many of us have wondered what goes on behind closed doors and what the true celebrity lifestyle is really like. As Cambridge graduate Anna is employed as live in tutor/companion to eight year old Antigone, we are given the chance to see behind the carefully orchestrated perfection.

This novel will certainly make you think about the perception and the reality; the fame ‘industry’ and the impact of a parent or parent’s fame on their children. In turns humorous, insightful and frightening, The A-List Family is much more than the inside story on a famous family; it’s a fascinating and thought provoking look at the nature of ‘celebrity’, how a person can become a brand and the ‘business’ of fame.

Anna enters a world where the lines between employee and ‘friend’ blur; where ‘parent’, ‘nanny’ and ‘housekeeper’ are interchangeable and although trust and security are paramount, she can trust no-one and often feels less than secure. I loved the tensions between the staff in the house and the many undercurrents to this story. There are some soap-opera worthy plot twists and revelations throughout the book which gave it a good pace and kept me engrossed.

This is very much Antigone’s story and from the start I was fascinated by her character. Antigone is highly intelligent but struggles with social and personal interactions and is very much a victim of her parents fame. As Anna is employed to stretch and develop Antigone both mentally and physically, the reader is given a first hand view of the pressures of growing up in a world where everyone knows who you are (or thinks they do) before you do. It’s a fascinating story and I loved the way Antigone’s part in in played out.

Anna took a little while to grow on me and in may ways she is similar to Antigone; highly intelligent but socially awkward. Anna’s development through the book is interesting as she compares the reality she experiences in her job to the reported life of her employers. Despite her attempts not to be, Anna is drawn into the secret world behind the scenes and influenced by the lifestyle she sees. As a consequence, Anna’s developing friendship with photographer Jack showed a side to her character that I wasn’t very keen on.

The finale to the story is certainly dramatic; wonderfully far-fetched yet actually believable and I enjoyed the way that the book concluded. Christina’s sharp and witty observations make The A-List Family an escapist read with an edge and I’m now keen to read Christina’s previous novels, particularly The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs.

4/5

The A-List Family is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank Hodder for sending me a review copy of this novel.

Find out more about Christina Hopkinson and her writing at: http://www.christinahopkinson.com/

 

 

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