Book Review: Plus One by Vanessa Raphaely

I’m an infrequent reader. I wish that wasn’t the case. In my head I read hundreds of intelligent novels that stimulate my mind and encourage deep conversation.

I’m a mom. I work full time. I blog part time. I have an illicit love affair with tv.

I cheat on my first love, books, daily!

Fortunately I finally rekindle my true love every holiday.

When I do find the time to read I cannot do much else. Even more so when the book I’m reading sucks me into it’s world! My full attention is turned to the pages of my book and the characters within. No one else can penetrate my determined focus to get to the final page.

This was recently the case with Plus One by Vanessa Raphaely which came out towards the end of last year. My copy arrived just before we drove out of the driveway to our annual camping trip. Perfect timing!

While whiling away blissful summer days under the shade of the cicada-clad trees on our campsite, I was caught up in the underworld of celebrity, champagne and chaos….

Plus One is about a weekend of fun, sunshine and partying that goes horribly wrong. Set in the dark underbelly of Hollywood and international women’s magazines the story features Deputy editor of glamorous FILLE magazine in London, Lisa Lassiter, and her best friend Claudia Hemmingway, one of the hottest movie stars on the planet.

In the way young women like them do, Lisa and Claudia find themselves on a billionaire’s yacht in Mykonos one weekend. Everyone there seems to be harbouring secrets. It’s a weekend of hedonism and partying – and during a particularly debauched moment, someone dies.

Lisa has spent ten years trying to get past that weekend. But unfinished business and secrets always work their way to the surface.

Moving on is one thing; forgetting is another, and forgiving … well, where to start?

I was super excited to read this book, not just because I hadn’t read one in a while, but because it is written by someone I have long admired… Vanessa Raphaely is the former award-winning editor of Cosmopolitan South Africa and now Associated Media Publishing’s content editor. She has had a long career in women’s media, including many years in London. As someone who wanted to work in women’s magazines from the age of 13 and did a “Job Shadow” at Associated Media, you can imagine how intrigued I was to delve into the pages of this book for some of her behind-the-scenes insights!

Although Plus One is not autobiographical, the world that it’s set in was very much her world. Vanessa worked in media in London for over 10 years and spent a lot of time immersed in fashion, beauty, wealth, inherited wealth and celebrity.

Plus One will transport you from LA to Cape Town to the Greek islands and New York where glamour belies a gritty reality just below the shiny surface.

Early in her writing process Vanessa was told to “write what you know” and so much of the storyline covers topics that Vanessa is intimately acquainted with… She has famous friends, she once did have to get off a billionaire’s yacht in a hurry and she also had a boyfriend who is now a hugely successful Hollywood agent.

This is an easy, contemporary read that will keep you guessing until the end. It is a great holiday book for those who enjoy the lighter side of fiction… but the book touches on heavier themes too such as those surrounding social and women’s issues, the darker side of celebrity and the complexities of female friendship. There is a real-world relevance to this book (and not just because the main character grew up in Bergvliet just like myself!) I loved the South African flavour, the character development and the fast-paced story line.

This book is a page turner, I devoured it at every moment finding it thrilling and entertaining. Intelligently written, I loved Vanessa’s brilliant first novel and I cannot wait to read more from her.

 

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Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for almost 7 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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