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"Adored" tells the story of the rich and powerful McMahon family, who are something of a Hollywood dynasty. Headed by the legendary Hollywood producer, Duke McMahon, they are a fairly fascinating family. Duke's wife Minnie and children Pete and Laurie are understandably horrified when womanising Duke moves his mistress Caroline into the family's estate, and even more so when she later falls pregnant with Hunter.
Some years later, Pete's wife Claire gives birth to Siena, Duke's beloved grand-daughter. She is headstrong and stubborn and displays diva-esque qualities from an early age, which is ironic considering her desire to become a Hollywood actress. Siena's close friendship is torn apart when her parents tire of her attitude and send her to boarding school in England. There, she turns to modelling, much to her father's display and avidly pursues her dream of following in her family's Hollywood footsteps. Will Siena fulfill her ambitions?
The story is written in the third person, and is a little more complicated in terms of sentence structures than you will find in many of the chick-lit novels. This doesn't mean that it is any more difficult to read, but it is a far less fluffy writing style. The story flicks around between the various characters and often skips through years. This is made implicitly clear though, and it is immediately obvious that the story has moved forwards. This is necessary as the story is spanning three generations of the McMahon family from Duke down to Siena, so there is a lot of background that the author needs the reader to be aware of.
In terms of characters, there was no one character that I was rooting for as there are flaws in each of them. Minnie and Claire are both pretty weak characters as they repeatedly let their husbands call the shots. Duke, Caroline and Siena are self-centred characters who tend to think highly of themselves, although even Siena later becomes a weaker character emotionally due to the manipulations of Randall, who enters the story later on. Pete's intense dislike of Hunter is also something of a flaw in his character. These flaws are to be expected really though and I was not particularly surprised that they were so strongly evident, given that such families tend to be dysfunctional. I wouldn't class these character flaws as a negative as such, but there is no character in the book that I have a lot of empathy for. For me though, this made the characters rather fascinating.
By the end of the book, I had much more empathy for Siena, which is quite amazing considering that I could not stand her character before halfway.
As you can imply from the cover, there are references to sex throughout the book. This can be quite graphic, but no worse than I've read in other books.
It is currently available on Amazon for £5.59 (it was previously £6.99). At just over 600 pages long, it is quite a lengthy read but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. There were no real surprises or twists and turns in the plot, so it's not an overly taxing read and you are not constantly being encouraged to second guess what might happen next. Instead, the book simply moves through the various events (often skipping several years in the process, as I mentioned earlier in the review) until the plot reaches its conclusion.
What the back of the book says
To the outside world, Siena McMahon has a fairytale life. Born into a great Hollywood dynasty - granddaughter of forties movie legend Duke McMahon, daughter of billionaire producer Pete McMahon - she is blessed with beauty, brains and wealth, a proverbial princess.
But behind the wrought iron gates of the sprawling McMahon mansion in the Hollywood Hills, life is far from happy. The McMahons are bound together not by love, but by ambition, greed and intrigue. When a gold-digging English aristocrat, Caroline Berkeley, worms her way into their lives and their home, the fault lines in the feuding family are blown right open.
In an effort to protect Siena from the fall-out, her parents pack her off to an English boarding school. But Siena has a burning ambition she will not lose sight of. She is determined to become a Hollywood star in her own right, just as her grandfather once said she would be. One way or another, Siena McMahon is going to return to LA and take the City of Dreams by storm. And woe betide anyone who gets in her way...
What I thought
Tilly Bagshawe is the sister of writer Louise Bagshawe and her books follow a similar vein. Adored is her first novel and it follows the life of the McMahon family. Legendary Hollywood movie star and well known Lothario, Duke McMahon is head of the family. The story mainly centres around him and his granddaughter, Sienna and Hunter, his son. Sienna is the only daughter of his son Pete and Hunter is Duke's son with his long term mistress Caroline. Sienna and Hunter are roughly the same age.0.
Duke is a very controlling person, and Sienna and Hunter, desperate to be out from under his thumb move to Hollywood, both wanting to be famous. the book follows them in their hunt to find themselves.
I am a big fan of Louise Bagshawe's books as my previous reviews will confirm. Unfortunately I have now read all of her books and as I read a lot Im always on the lookout for books I will like. After overhearing a conversation at work about authors and the mention of Tilly Bagshawe in the same sentence as Louise Bagshawe, I tried to find out more. I was pleased to find out that Tilly is in fact Louise Bagshawes sister and is currently on her third novel. I did a search on Bookmooch and managed to get hold of her first book Adored. This is the book I am reviewing today. After enjoying Louise Bagshawes novels for several years I was hoping that her sister would be able to fill the gap before a new book comes out.
I would describe Tilly's style of writing as very similar in vein to the Jackie Collins Hollywood blockbuster. The book has a lot of glamour, sex, betrayal and general trampling on people to get to the top. What I particularly liked about this book was the list of characters at the beginning. Each character's name is listed with their relationships to other characters detailed. As there are numerous characters in the story I did find this useful as a reminder on occasion. It is also brief enough so that it doesn't give any of the story away if you read it all first!
Anyway, onto the story.
Initially the book is set in Los Angeles at Hancock Park the estate owned by Duke McMahon, an ageing Hollywood legend. The descriptions of the mansion and grounds made me think Dallas or Dynasty particularly as the story started in 1975. Duke is married to Minnie and has two children Pete and Laurie. His wife is used to his bed hopping but Duke pushes her to the limits when he decides to move his latest mistress Caroline into the house to live with the family. The story centres around this situation and the tensions that build as a result for a fair few chapters. As time passes the story shifts its focus to the next generation and we follow characters Hunter and Siena as they grow up within the McMahon fold and its strange relationships.
Siena McMahon is in fact the main character in the book and it is her ambition, determination, drive and need for fame and fortune that is the central story. Siena want's to follow in her grandfather Dukes footsteps and make it as a Hollywood star. She goes to school in England for a short while and gains a place at Oxford which she fails to take up deciding to start modelling instead. Siena's father Pete is dead against her pursuing a Hollywood career and tries to block her progress. But Siena is determined and the relationship between father and daughter becomes strained. Siena's mother Claire stands by her father and so Siena finds herself alone in her pursuit of a career.
Another big character is Max De Seville who is introduced as Hunters best friend. As well as his relationships with the McMahon family he also links into other characters as he has relatives in England. So some of the story is based in Batcombe in Devon. Max's half brother Henry owns an estate and is keeping a big secret from his timid wife Muffy. The latter part of the book flicks back and forth from the US and England detailing the characters seperate storylines and then linking them together.
So does Siena make it to the top? Does she make it up with her family? Is fame all its cracked up to be?
The story is by no means difficult to follow and there are no big surprises or twists in the tale. It simply explores the lives of the rich and famous and how money distorts what's really important in life.
This is a story to take with a pinch of salt. Some of the things that happen are a bit unbelievable but is after all fiction! I found some of the female characters were portrayed as very weak in personality and that they were willing to be walked all over by the men in their lives. The fact that Siena's mother did not stand up to her husband to save her relationship with her daughter I thought was a bit stretching. How easily would you be willing to dismiss your daughters existence? Also Minnie McMahon's turning a blind eye to her husbands philandering. This weakness made them very difficult to like and I definitely did not feel sympathy for them in their plight. I also found Duke, Pete and another character Randall despicable in their actions. However this did make them strong characters - you know the ones you love to hate! (Back to Dallas and JR!)
Hunter, Max and Siena were all potrayed as beautiful people with likeable characteristics. I particularly liked Max as a character.
As I compared this earlier to a Jackie Collins novel you won't be surprised to learn it contains several graphic sex scenes. It also contains bad language and drug references so is not one for the easily offended.
I really enjoyed this book. It is very similar to Louise Bagshawes earlier novels and I was definitely not disappointed. I will be mooching Tilly's second novel Showdown as soon as I can. I would recommend this book as a good escapist read. A perfect summer holiday beach read. Not too much to think about but enough of a story to keep you reading!
Other books: Showdown, Do Not Disturb
Number of pages: 636
Price: back of book £6.99 Amazon: from as little as 1p used
To the outside world, Siena McMahon has a fairytale life. Born into a great Hollywood dynasty - granddaughter of forties movie legend Duke McMahon, daughter of billionaire producer Pete McMahon - she is blessed with beauty, brains and wealth, a proverbial princess. But behind the wrought iron gates of the McMahon's sprawling Hollywood mansion, life is far from happy. The McMahons are bound together not by love, but by ambition, greed and intrigue. When a gold-digging English aristocrat worms her way into their lives and their home, the fault lines in the feuding family are blown right open. In an effort to protect Siena from the fall-out, her parents pack her off to an English boarding school. But Siena has a burning ambition - she is determined to become a Hollywood star, just as her grandfather said she would be. One way or another, Siena McMahon is going to return to LA and take the City of Dreams by storm. And woe betide anyone who gets in her way...