14 March 2012

Book Review: One Night Only by Sue Welfare

"Fame and fortune can’t hide the secrets of her past…

When fading soap star, Helen Redford, goes back to her old home town to make a TV show about her glittering career she catches a glimpse of the might-have-beens that drove her to leave in the first place.

Ex boy friends, old scores to settle, friendships gone sour, chances not taken,and secrets about Helen's family that have haunted her since she was a little girl.

Will Helen be able to put her past to rest?"

Rating: 4.5/5

This is the second of Sue Welfare's books I have read, the first having been The Surprise Party which was released in 2011, a book I found to be a delightful read. I was luckily sent a copy of One Night Only for review from Sue's publishers, and was really looking forward to delving in. The idea of a story about a celebrity going into their past sounded like an interesting one, and I wondered where Sue would be able to take the concept. While I have to confess to not being madly keen on the cover which is a little bit too similar to The Surprise Party if you ask me, I hope that like me people choose to not judge this book by the cover because its a wonderful story that I really couldn't put down!

I really loved the main character of Helen. The book really in entirely about her so its important that as readers we can like her and warm to her, and I feel like Sue has created a warm and realistic character, who even though she is a celebrity, she seems real and like a really nice person. Her career is on the wane a little bit, so when she's approached to be on TV show 'Roots', she decides its worth a go. Her agent and ex-husband Arthur urges her to, and boyfriend Bo is supportive as well. I liked that Helen was really unsure about the show and didn't just jump in for the money as we might assume that she would, but instead she took the time to think about it and the positive and negative things about it too. Helen was just a great character to read about, and I enjoyed reading her story.

The idea of the TV show within the book sounds loosely based on shows such as "Who Do You Think You Are" which features real celebs and their past lives. Roots more chooses to look at the person's present day and their own story rather than their ancestors, and this allows Welfare to delve in Helen's past and present a totally different character to us. As well as the modern day chapters where we see Helen filming the show and the secrets being revealed, there are alternate chapters which go back to Helen as a young school girl, with best friend Kate being a singing double act at a local talent show, and how things progress for them from there. It mainly focuses on the one night of the show, and then Helen's discovery of fame and her agent shortly after that. I enjoyed very much how the book flitted between the two time periods of Helen's life, and it kept the narrative fresh, and me interested in the book.

Some of the storylines are bit seedy, involving Kate and 2 "agents" that the girl's meet backstage at their gig, but I think it's a very real issue and certainly something that must happen up and down the country unfortunately. I also liked the storyline of Helen's mother and how she disappeared when Helen was a young girl, leaving her to be brought up by her father. It wasn't an overly soppy and emotional tale, yet was told matter of factly, and you could see how Helen, even now as an adult, is deeply affected by her loss and not knowing what happened to her mother. All of these brought together created a really deep and insightful book, that had me giggling in places and crying in others. You really want everything to work out for Helen, and for her to have a good time on the TV show, and not be too upset by certain revelations that come forward in the book.

Overall, I thought this was a brilliant read that will have people hooked from the first page until the very last. Welfare has created a really great leading lady in Helen, and the other characters within the book are really well written and fit perfectly into the story as well. I especially liked how the friendship between Helen and Kate are written, very reminiscent of teenage relationships for a lot of people I suspect. I found that the two stories of modern day Helen and school girl Helen made for great reading, and I really liked seeing why Helen was how she is today, and how her past has shaped her future. It's a really interesting look not only at how a TV show like this is made, but the impact it has on the people who are the subject of it as well, which I really enjoyed reading about. I loved every page of this book, and while it may not have the best cover in the world, the story inside is fantastic, and I highly recommend that you read this book!

You can buy One Night Only in paperback and as an eBook now.

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