( 11 )


Claudette Fioré used to turn heads and break hearts. She relished the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle because she had what it takes: money, youth, fame, and above all, beauty. But age has withered that beauty, and a crooked accountant has taken her wealth, leaving the proud widow penniless and alone.

Armed with stubbornness and sarcasm, Claudette returns to her shabby little hometown and her estranged sister. Slowly, she makes friends. She begins to see her old life in a new ...

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Claudette Fioré used to turn heads and break hearts. She relished the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle because she had what it takes: money, youth, fame, and above all, beauty. But age has withered that beauty, and a crooked accountant has taken her wealth, leaving the proud widow penniless and alone.

Armed with stubbornness and sarcasm, Claudette returns to her shabby little hometown and her estranged sister. Slowly, she makes friends. She begins to see her old life in a new light. For the first time, Claudette Fioré questions her own values and finds herself wondering if it's too late to change.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for
Melody Carlson and Limelight

"A compelling tale of one woman's journey from the excitement of the limelight to contentment in the twilight. When eighty-two-year-old Claudette is forced to leave her pampered Hollywood life and return to the backward town she escaped decades ago, she isn't sure she wants to continue living — especially if it means facing her estranged sister and the secret she has avoided for years. Limelight is a beautiful coming-of-age story at the other end of the spectrum."
–Virginia Smith, author of Third Time's a Charm and the Sister-to-Sister Series

"Only a gifted writer like Melody Carlson could present a self-centered character in such a way that the reader can't wait to turn the page and learn more about her. Claudette's poignant, yet amusing journey from worldly has-been diva to genuine, honest woman grabs the reader by the heartstrings and doesn't let go, even after the end. Highly recommended!"
–Jill Elizabeth Nelson, author of the To Catch a Thief series

"…any story by Carlson is worth encountering."
"Melody Carlson's style is mature and bitingly funny, and her gift for connecting our heart to the character's plight also connects us to the complicated human condition and our need for one another."
–Patricia Hickman, author of Painted Dresses

"Melody Carlson never fails to drag us out of our Christian easychairs and right into the coals of the confusing culture in which we all find ourselves. She never fails to reveal that place of compassion within each of us. Excellent."
–Lisa Samson, author of The Church Ladies and Tiger Lillie

"With great confidence, I can say that Melody Carlson's story will enlighten, encourage, and empower you."
–Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Counseling & Health Resources, Inc.

Publishers Weekly
Inspirational author Carlson, whose sales exceed 2.5 million copies, offers her fans a delightful tale of a beautiful starlet whose life in the limelight has long passed the curtain-call stage. Claudette Fioré, widow of the deceased famed director Gavin Fioré, loses her home after an accountant misappropriates the family fortune. Claudette, despondent with grief, attempts to kill herself and lands in a hospital, where she implores her gay stepson to rescue her. Once Claudette is released, she is forced to return to her mother's home and, through a comedy of errors, realizes her once glamorous lifestyle has left her bereft of any life skills. With only an estranged sister to turn to, Claudette begrudgingly pays sister Violet a call in the local retirement facility. Too bad they refuse to make amends; Claudette must suffer yet more indignities as she slowly learns that her sister has similarly suffered in her own way. Carlson's story line, though implausible, is full of keen, dry wit and will more than make up for the unlikely events. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400070824
  • Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,455,734
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Melody Carlson is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than two hundred books including The Other Side of Darkness, On This Day, Crystal Lies, Finding Alice, and several series for teens. Melody and her husband live in central Oregon, where they enjoy an active lifestyle of skiing, hiking, gardening, camping, and biking. They are the parents of two grown sons.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
I used to be a beauty.
You know the sort of woman—she walks into a room and heads turn. Oh, I don’t mean just male heads because, believe me, women look too. Maybe they do it a little more inconspicuously, as if they’re just checking out the latest shoe styles. But usually, they’re comparing, inventorying, mentally tallying up who’s the thinnest, fairest, trendiest. Who can turn more heads. It’s the game we all play but no one ever admits to—a game that ends too quickly. Because, despite our efforts, age creeps in, beauty fades…and along with it, the limelight.
I am a testament to the temporary rewards of beauty. I sit alone in this sorry institution where no one comes to visit and no one gives a whit that I, Claudette Fioré, a woman who once made heads turn and broke hearts, have lost everything. No one knows who I am or who I used to be. No one even cares. It is no wonder that I tried to end my life. And yet I couldn’t even succeed at that. Just one more notch of uselessness on the weighty belt of old age.
Of course, there are those fools who think that simply because I am old, I also must be wise. They assume that all these many years of life and experience have somehow broadened something besides my flabby backside. But I fear they are mistaken.

I am nothing more than a silly woman who has grown unbearably old. A misshapen and withered shell that holds little more than wounded pride and faded memories. And yet I still manage to deceive a few—but only those willing to be tricked. Like that silly volunteer girl who comes in here twice a week. I suspect she is performing community service, although she will not admit to as much. Her name is Lucy, I believe. Or is it Lindy? Or Lulu? Oh, how am I supposed to remember such trivia?
“You’re looking fine today, Mrs. Fioré,” she told me this afternoon. It’s the same thing she says every time I see her. Why don’t they train these girls to use a variety of greetings? But then, what can you expect from a place that uses a rotating weekly menu with entrées like Salisbury steak and liver and onions?
“Fine?” I rolled my eyes and ran my hand through my thinning hair, sadly in need of professional attention and white as cotton since they don’t allow me to tint it here in the “home.” I’ve considered asking this girl to help me escape to see André, my hairdresser, to get it properly done, but why bother? Who cares?
She smiled as she straightened the pictures on my bureau. Sylvia, my faithful cook, brought them to me, along with some other things from my home. I suspect she was trying to cheer me up. Most of the photos are of me. Naturally, they were taken when I was younger, prettier, alive. However, one photo is with Gavin, and another is with my younger sister, back when we were speaking to each other.
She’s an intelligent woman but plain faced and frumpy. We make an odd pair, since she wasn’t born with the looks that came anywhere close to matching my own, and she never learned how to make the most of what little she had. But all the photos were purposely selected to show me at my best, my prime. Why would I not be?
“So, how are you feeling?” She came over to peer into my pale blue eyes. They were once bright and clear…bluer than the Pacific on a cloudless day. Fiery blue, I was once told by a man who thought he loved me. Now they are faded and weak, and despite laser surgery, I must squint to read her name tag. Lindy, yes, just as I thought.
“As well as can be expected for someone locked up in a place like this.” My usual retort to her usual question. But still she smiled, undeterred by my nastiness. It was part of the game we played.
“Oh, Mrs. Fioré, there are worse places to be, you know.”
“I can’t imagine where.”
“Then don’t waste your imagination going there. Instead, why don’t you tell me about other places you’ve been?”
Ah, now this was more like it. The only thing good about this silly Lindy character was that she liked to hear about what my life used to be like. Or at least she acted that way. I could never be completely sure. I suppose that was the long-term result of having spent most of my days among people who often said one thing and meant another. Still, I was bored silly by myself and my dismal surroundings today, so I played along.
“You were telling me about your mother the other day…”She tossed me the bait as she straightened the sheets on my narrow bed. “I believe she had just sewn you and your sister new dresses.”
I nodded as the memory drifted down on me like a downy blanket. I had given myself liberty with this young woman. She was so far removed from my social sphere, so foreign to the world I had inhabited for so many years, that I had come to think of her as a “safe” person—and, trust me, there have been few. I believed she was someone I could tell secrets to, memories that had lain hidden for all of my adulthood.
“Yes, that’s right,” I began. “Violet, my sister, and I were around four and six at the time. Violet is younger than I, although for decades she’s been mistaken for my much older sister. Poor Violet, she’s aged so much faster than I.”
“What time of year was it?” Lindy fluffed my down pillow, one of my few luxuries in this stark environment.
I actually bribed one of the interns to purchase it for me. Most of my valuables were locked up for “safekeeping,” but I tempted the young man with my Cartier Tank watch. Quite a deal for him, considering the watch must have been worth the price of dozens of fine down pillows.
“Spring,” I told her. “But these weren’t Easter dresses, as I
recall. Or if they were, I must’ve been allowed to wear mine to school.” I sighed as I remembered the reception I got at Silverton
Elementary that day. “Of course, all the other little girls were dressed like ragamuffins, and when they saw me, why, their eyes nearly popped out of their straggly heads. I was the envy of the entire first grade. Maybe the whole school, for that matter.”
“How did that make you feel?”
I scowled at Lindy. She had this obnoxious way of asking intrusive questions that I’d rather not think about, let alone answer. But I knew the game well enough to know that to keep her attention, I must at least attempt an answer.
“I probably felt a bit bad. And yet…I enjoyed having the prettiest dress. I can still remember the fabric too. It was a pale yellow dotted swiss that my grandmother had sent up from the Bay area. And my daddy said I looked just like a sunbeam in it. And he told me how my blond pigtails shimmered like spun gold in the sunshine.
“Oh, I knew I was pretty, all right. Probably the prettiest little girl in town. And why shouldn’t I be? Some people are simply chosen to live above the rest—the crème de la crème, we rise to the top. I think it was around then that I began to suspect I would one day be the golden girl of Silverton. I knew my value would lie in my looks.”
“And why’s that?”
“Because my folks were poor.” I sighed. Surely, I’d told Lindy this already. “Oh, everyone hit hard times during the Depression.” I tried to be patient with this poor numbskull of a girl. “But even in the best of times, my folks were fairly strapped, back when I was little anyway. My daddy didn’t much care for working; he felt it was hard on his back and callused his hands. And although my mother took in laundry, cleaned houses, did odd jobs when she got the chance…it wasn’t enough to keep a family of four fed.”
“So it must’ve been special for you to have a new dress.”
“I’ll say. I thought I was Queen for a Day. Of course, that was back before I’d ever heard of such a thing. But I’m sure I imagined myself to be a princess in a fairy tale. And in some ways, my fate was set on that spring day. I knew I was too good for our dusty little town. I knew I was destined for greatness.” “You knew that when you were only six?”
“Oh, I probably couldn’t have expressed it in so many words, but I had this feeling deep inside me, this undeniable sense that someday I would really be, oh, something.
She nodded with a hard-to-read expression, but one that aggravated me to the core. Just who was this upstart of a girl, and why did she come to visit me? Perhaps I should be more careful with my words.
“Is something wrong, Mrs. Fioré?”
“Why are you here?” I peered closely at her pasty complexion. Had this poor girl never heard of rouge or what they called blush nowadays?
She smiled, exposing slightly crooked teeth. “I’ve told you before that I’m from the university…that I volunteer here to get credit for one of my classes.”
I scowled at her, knowing full well that frowning only deepened the creases between my brows, but it no longer mattered how many wrinkles I incurred. Then I smiled at her. It was an insincere smile, but I doubted that she would know the difference. “What is your major, dear?”
She glanced away as if uncomfortable.
“You come here and pester me with your silly questions. Personal queries that I answer honestly. But I ask you a simple question and you close up on me like an angry clam.” I leaned forward and peered even more closely at her. She really was a homely little thing with her mousy hair and oversized nose. “Why is that?”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Fioré. My major is clinical psychology.”
My jaw tightened. “So I am your guinea pig? You ask your prying questions without disclosing your purposes. Perhaps you plan to practice your junior clinical psychology on me?”
“No, that’s not it…”
I sat up straighter, easing to the edge of my seat. Then placing one hand on each arm of the chair, I hoisted myself to a standing position. “That will be enough.” She stood too, but I was still tall enough to look down on her.
“But we’ve barely started to visit.”
“We are finished, Lucy. And do not come back to see me again.”
“But, Mrs. Fioré—”
“You are dismissed,” I said in my haughtiest voice, the same tone I once used for servants who didn’t understand their place in my household. “Good-bye.” I turned and slowly walked away.
One of the few things I can be thankful for in my advanced years is my ability to walk. I pretended not to notice others in the room. The pathetic old lump of a woman with greasy gray hair, slumped like a bag of potatoes in her wheelchair…the thin, balding, middle-aged man who chewed his fingernails down to nubs…the doped-up young woman with a tattoo of a serpent crawling down her arm who stared blankly out the window. These people did not interest me. It was obvious they belonged here. I did not.
It was also obvious that I needed to find a way out of this nut house.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 12 of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 10, 2009

    Limelight Book Review

    by Melody Carlson
    Initial Response: Great!!
    Age: Not appropriate for young teens. Mentions In.cest. Is an incident in the main character's childhood. Is written about appropriately, but spoils the book for the teenage girl who would love the rest of the book. I was thinking about blacking that part out so my middle daughter could read it, but it has an impact in the conclusion.
    Synopsis: I really enjoyed the look into the life of Claudette Fiore, someone who used to turn heads in the Hollywood scene. Married to a famous director, Claudette hosted parties and lived a lifestyle most of us only read about. Now her husband is gone, and a crooked accountant has left her poor. She returns to her small town to live in the only home she owns. It was a hoot to read about her journeys into what most of us term, daily life. Just great!! Makes me appreciate the life I have.

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  • Posted November 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not in the Limelight anymore.

    I thought this book was a lot of fun. Claudette was a lady who was "past her prime" and she just wanted to give up. She even tried to end it all, but God was at work. Claudette learns a big life lesson that there is more to life than what she sees.

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  • Posted November 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Love Melody Carlson Books!

    I was thrilled to do a review for a Melody Carlson book. She has some really good books. This one took me a bit more time to get into, but by the second chapter was getting more into it. It isn't like most of her books, but still good. I found the character Claudette to be funny, interesting, and secretive, which kept me reading.I wanted to know more about her, and her past. If you like Melody Carlson Books, you will like this as well.

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  • Posted November 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting perspective

    What a unique book. This book is about a Hollywood has-been in her 80's that is suffering from a case of... if I can't have what I want, then I'd rather die! So she tries to... die that is. After a failed suicide attempt we meet Claudette Fiore in a mental hospital trying to figure out how she is going to leave when she has no where to go after a recent visit from the IRS, which is what led to attempt in the first place. She calls upon her step-son Michael for help and he comes to her rescue. Only one problem, with the Beverly Hills mansion sold for back taxes that leaves her with her mother's old house back home in a town that she swore she'd never go back to. Could death be worse than this? Claudette doesn't think so. Can Michael change her mind and help her see that her life isn't over yet?

    What does she do to take care of herself and her new little bungalow without the staff that has waited on her hand and foot for the last 60 years? Heavens, Claudette doesn't know how to do the dishes, wash clothes or make a bed - how is she ever going to stay alive let alone clean? When people from her past start popping into her life how will she ever survive the humiliation?
    Can you really teach an old dog new tricks? Come take a journey with Claudette and see.

    I really enjoyed this book and seeing how the other half lives, and I don't mean the rich and famous, I mean the elderly! Good book coming from an author who writes a lot of young adult books, it was kind of nice seeing a different side.

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  • Posted November 2, 2009

    Enthralling novel about starting over

    Limelight by Melody Carlson is an unusual and humorous book about a starting life all over again at 82. Claudette Fiore's life was one anyone would envy: wealth, fame, handsome movie director husband, beauty; the epitome of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, until her accountant paid himself instead of the IRS leaving her without a home or the kind of life she's lived for the last sixty years. At first, the news causes her to attempt suicide, but two weeks in a psychiatric facility has left her determined to live on her own again. With the help of her stepson, she returns to her hometown of Silverton, California to a house left to Claudette in her mother's will. Returning to the town she couldn't leave fast enough and the sister she hasn't spoken to in years will test her self-confidence, and she will have to find her new place in the world. Claudette's trials while trying to learn how to care for a home: washing clothes with dish detergent, starting a fire in the fireplace with a closed flue, and using her Crock-Pot as emergency bathroom facilities makes this book at times a laugh out loud riot. But there is also a powerful message about friendship and finding self worth outside of your gross income. Carlson is an outstanding author, her books for teens resonate strongly with the YA audience, but her voice in this book rings just as true. Claudette is a character I wouldn't mind visiting again!

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  • Posted November 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Another best read by Melody Carlson

    I swear, there is no one that can write like Melody Carlson. Each of her books have been totally distinct and unique and just simply written wonderfully. This book is no exception. We're taken this time to the story of a former It Girl from the Golden Age of Hollywood who's suddenly found herself to be old, lonely and not knowing how to live life for herself. Claudette has to adapt from living a life with servants and staff doing everything for her to having to figure out even the simplest life skill on her own. It's a moving journey for both Claudette and the reader as she has to move back to her childhood home and rediscover life.

    There are parts of the book that are just hilarious yet at the same time I felt bad for laughing at Claudette's expense. I really liked how she was willing to do all these things albeit grudgingly and didn't use her age as an excuse. It really makes one think how we take all these things for granted, such as knowing how to use a washing machine or knowing that towels can be washed. To see her change throughout the book was a real eye opener that I totally enjoyed.

    Something I found very interesting about this book was that there was a character who is gay, has been gay for years, and stays gay throughout the book. His lifestyle is not described in any fashion other than stating that he is gay and that he has a partner. No statements are made derogatory towards him and he is treated with respect from other characters. By the end of the book, there are hints that he has begun to go to a church that accepts him for who he is and he is interesting in knowing more about God, the Bible and church. One other thing I did find hilarious was the phrase "sex toy" being used. I honestly think that's the first time I've read that in a Christian fiction book ever!

    This book REALLY makes you think, not only about about how you view life, but how your life changes when you get older and when you need to learn to stop being so prideful and accept help. Claudette's story is a wonderful read, full of humor, happiness, tears and hurt. This book is one of the best I've read this year and one that everyone should read. VERY HIGHLY recommended.

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  • Posted September 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    entertaining inspirational tale

    Claudette never minded living on the edge of the LIMELIGHT as the wife to her beloved Hollywood legend, director husband Gavin Fiore. However, when he dies her heart breaks as she grieves her loss and fears being alone for the first time ever. She also learns she is bankrupt as all that money Gavin earned was misused by their thieving accountant.

    Distraught Claudette tries suicide, but fails even at that. Despondent after her release from the hospital, she returns home to Silverton having no longer a house in Beverly Hills as that was sold to pay back taxes. Claudette has no skills whatsoever and being old means no longer can she use her beauty to get what she wants. She turns to her estranged sister Violet at the senior citizen home, but that proves fruitless as does her understanding Mother whose faith has never wavered. It is Gavin's letters that inspire Claudette.

    This is an entertaining inspirational tale that deeply scrutinizes religious beliefs, and personal values through the strong elderly characters. In many ways the story line is a second chance at family. Claudette, Violet, Mother and the late Gavin as well as others make for a powerful look at what matters in life is how you treat others away from the limelight as you can teach an old dog new tricks if the goal is right; for the protagonist it has become hugs in Silverton and one day hugs with Gavin in heaven.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted December 18, 2009

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    Posted January 31, 2012

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    Posted February 28, 2010

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    Posted December 20, 2009

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    Posted December 26, 2009

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