|About the Book|
I was pretty happy to strike a Kate Thompson book that I haven’t read yet in the supermarket bargain bin. The first book I read by her was an impulse purchase in a second hand store and then I tracked down two more online containing the same characters that cost me close to $35 each (some 6-7 years ago, long before I knew about alternatives!). I’ve managed to acquire a few more since and read 1 or 2 others from the library. This one didn’t feature my favourite characters from her other novels, other than very briefly in passing but that was okay.Aphrodite is the daughter of a successful actress but what she has seen of the lifestyle from her mother has been more than enough to turn her off it and she instead chooses to work behind the scenes in theatre – set design. She has a great artistic eye and although she hasn’t been granted the job of her dreams yet she’s been making enough to get by doing commercials. Even though she’s not an interior designer, her mother manages to engineer her the job of re-doing Troy McNally’s bathroom. McNally is the darling of the Irish fashion world, and after the departure of his muse, he wants everything ripped out and done anew. The bathroom is where he thinks, where he brainstorms his creations and he wants a clean slate. So Aphrodite does her best and after one failed attempt she completely redoes it. Exhausted at the end, she decides to take a bath in the new paradise and is interrupted by Troy McNally himself, arriving home.The attraction is immediate between both of them and Aphrodite finds herself as Troy’s new muse, installed in his luxury faux Victorian apartment. But being Troy’s muse isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, Aphrodite finds out when, on a weekend away in the country with Troy, she meets some of his friends and learns just what one of them has to do in order to profit from the money she has poured into his company. Aphrodite finds that looking after Troy is a full time job as he delegates his phone calls, emails, etc to her while he struggles through his creative processes. Aphrodite finds herself designing his promotional shoots, which throws her back into contact with the darkly attractive Jack Costello who briefly passed through her life before Troy. As Troy slips deeper into a depression, his issues of abandonment as a child coming to the surface, Aphrodite is thrust into the spotlight in Ireland’s press, the pressure mounting on her as she faces scrutiny into every aspect of her life, sabotage from Troy’s friends and his employees.I love the setting of these books – I don’t often think of Ireland having a rich theatre and acting scene and I really enjoy getting into that side of it. This one focuses a bit less on theatre, although Aphrodite is seeking work as a set designer, as she falls in with Troy and it switches to the fashion world. Although the novel showcases the fun and glamorous side, such as creating the amazing clothes, doing expensive and over the top photographic promotional shoots and runway shows. But it also highlights the sheer work that goes into running such a company, being such a person. Aphrodite becomes pretty much an unpaid assistant to Troy, who is immersed in the creative process (and his personal demons) and ends up answering phone calls day and night, glued to the email, fielding hostilities from Troy’s official PA, coming up with ideas for the photo shoots and the runway shows and basically, doing the work of many people. At first she does it because she is infatuated with Troy but soon it becomes apparent that Troy just cannot cope with all of these day to day pressures and if everything isn’t going to be a massive disaster, Aphrodite has to shoulder this responsibility. She’s in too far now to back out and there is too much riding on this collection. Troy’s original muse, Jolie, has sunk a fortune into the company and Aphrodite learns that there isn’t anything Jolie won’t do to keep Troy happy – including procuring and training ‘muses’ so that the creative juices keep flowing.While definitely not one of my favourites of hers, I enjoyed it and I can easily see myself reading it again down the track. I really liked Aphrodite, she showed more courage and faith in herself than I’m used to seeing in the beginning of novels and she only got more into her abilities as the novel went on. I loved Jack, the charismatic photographer who Aphrodite meets at the beginning of the book, but then he goes overseas and when he returns, she is already seeing Troy. He pops in and out for the rest of the book – only wish he was around a little bit more, but I liked that feeling of knowing that he’d be back at some stage and turning the pages waiting for it to happen. It was nice to hear a few mentions of characters I already know, such as director David Lawless (who makes Aphrodite a job offer at the end of the novel) and actress Eva Lavery.Only a few more of her books to track down now.