Laura Cassidy's Walk of Fame, Alan McMonagle | Book Review

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Laura Cassidy's Walk of Fame by Alan McMonagle
Published: 5th March 2020 by Picador, Pan Macmillan
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

As a theatre fan (note: obsessive), I was thrilled when I was asked to review this book all about one young lady's journey to achieve her dream of stardom. Now it was not exactly what I expected. I had pictured Laura taking part in a rom-com esque battle to fight opposing actresses and pull out all the stops to achieve a coveted space on stage, and whilst that is a part of the story, the real driving force is Laura's mental struggles and falsely inflated sense of ego and stardom.

During childhood, when Laura's mother and sister were asleep, her father would fill her head with dreams of stardom as they watched classic films. When her father dies, Laura's whole life turns upside down and she never recovers from the trauma. Now in her mid 20s she hasn't managed to take Hollywood by storm and she lives an unbalanced life.

When a new Director comes to town, Laura thinks she will finally get her big break as Blanche DuBois in his new production of A Streetcar Named Desire. In an attempt to fulfil herself and make her father proud, she makes it her mission to land the role.

Needless to say, things don't go quite to plan. With Laura's globetrotting sister returning home and her kind-of boyfriend helping fill her head with daydreams, Laura begins a downward spiral and her feet fall out from beneath her in her own personal, Galway version of Streetcar.

I can't say this is in my top reads ever, but there's certainly some good moments and it's a very unique way to portray mental health. It's a hard book to explain because it doesn't really fit into a category. There are elements of contemporary chic-lit as well as darker moments, but it's never really dark enough to really be affective. Laura is continually an unreliable narrator so it's difficult to know how we should react. This partly makes it entertaining, having to try and pull apart the characters motivations and truth of her stories, but a lot of the time it feels laborious.

I found the writing somewhat hard to get into, which in part I think is intentional as it shows Laura's fragmented thought patterns, however, this didn't make it the most well paced book. The character development of course is essential but due to this, the key plot points often feel rammed in.

However, in saying all of this, I certainly think McMonagle has done a great job of showcasing passion for performing, and effectively creates some humourous scenes. There's a lovely sense of optimism throughout and you can't help but admire Laura's fervent desire to get her name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

Review by Olivia Mitchell

{AD PR Product- book gifted in exchange for honest review}