Just in time for Christmas, Landvik gets into the head of a Paris Hilton-like celebuditz in this lively "novel" propelled by e-mails, tabloid gossip and letters primarily written by, about or to young celebrity bad girl Caroline "Caro" Dixon. The gorgeous heiress's boozy rampages have made her notorious, but now she's considering a 12-step program, hence the bitter apology letter she writes to "everyone I have supposedly hurt." She tosses it out, and, in true Hollywood fashion, the catty missive turns up in a trashy tabloid. The ensuing firestorm of negative publicity and hate mail convinces Caro to give sobriety a shot. Caro's effort to dispel her image as "Little Miss Hangover" has its moments, but the choppy epistolary structure leaves much to be desired. Still, readers who love snark-it's doled out here by the shovelful-will dig this. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Landvik's first holiday novel features her signature sense of humor and quirky characters. Young socialite Caroline Dixon gets out of rehab and attempts to live a more stable life. Having alienated everyone she knows, she goes into hiding and tries to reach out to people from her past. Narrated in a series of letters, emails, and gossip-column snippets, this quick, charming read is suitable for all popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ7/08.]
Form trumps content in this slight holiday package from Landvik (The View from Mount Joy, 2007, etc.). The story unfolds through a series of e-mails and notes, as a debauched heiress leaves her life of tabloid embarrassments for a state of sober normalcy. Though the tale has a certain lurid interest-think Paris and Britney, shaken and served-the method of conveyance doesn't do the novel any favors; the prose is about as elegant as the average e-mail. Through exchanged missives, we learn of 26-year-old Caroline Dixon, rich, beautiful and usually drunk (a kind of holy trinity for the world's paparazzi). Interspersed are updates on Caro's exploits from the gossip column "Here's Buzz," which is cruel and, of course, quite popular. She winds up in rehab and afterward reaches out to those she's hurt. Most of her flimsy friendships evaporate, but she gets encouraging responses from two ghosts from her past: Cyril, the owner of an Arizona dude ranch she visited at 13, and Astrid, her Norwegian nanny. Truth be told, they need Caro as much as she needs them. Widowed Cyril has lost all interest in people, and Astrid is holed up on a tiny Norwegian island, hoping that seclusion will protect her from any future pain. The trio have three-way communiques, pour out their respective souls and decide that Christmas together at the dude ranch would all but guarantee a happier new year. Unfortunately, Cyril has a surprise guest who might push all good will out the window-the one and only "Buzz," who has been shish-kabobbing Caro for years. Will everyone get along? Is romance in the air? Will the spirit of giving triumph? The story, a succession of page-long messages followed by longer e-mails jam-packed withnone-too-subtle character exposition, sacrifices much for a gimmick that was worn out several years ago. A rare stumble from an entertaining author who usually has a strong, sure hand with character.
Read an Excerpt
From the “Here’s Buzz” column in Star Gazer magazine, August 7, 20—
The reason yours truly tips waiters so well is because they often tip me. And ey-yi-yi, sometimes they tip mucho grande!! Ladies and gents, boys and girls, we were recently handed a doozy of a document by one intrepid waiter who works poolside at an oh-so-swank Beverly Hills hotel. The Pentagon Papers helped bring down a president—maybe these purloined papers will help bring down a gadabout heiress who’s way too big for her size 4 bitches—oops!—I meant britches.
Here’s the scoop: As you loyal Star Gazer readers know, Caro Dixon has taken tippling to the nth degree, hitting the sauce like an Animal House frat pledge. Our accompanying photo album documents her in all phases of dress and undress, demonstrating why style and drunkenness so rarely coalesce. (Is she doing on that yacht what I think it is she’s doing?)
Perhaps inspired by her many friends who’ve walked those recuperative twelve steps (rehab and plastic surgery clinics—home away from home for the oh so chic), our Miss Caro decided to skip a few steps and wrote (or tried to write) a letter of apology to those she’s hurt because of her overindulgence in martinis, margaritas, and Manhattans. Now this is where it gets good and why I would earn a Pulitzer were the nominating committee hip to stories the people really want to read.
One recent southern California afternoon, Caro Dixon, slathered in coconut oil, lay on a chaise longue, writing furiously on a legal pad. Our plucky waiter took note of her scribe work, especially when the redheaded mega-heiress ripped the paper out of the pad and lobbed it into a nearby potted palm. (Let’s applaud her for trying to throw away her own trash—people of her ilk usually leave that job to the help.) After she staggered out of the pool area, her towel dragging behind her like the train of one of her designer gowns, our waiter, curiosity piqued, casually extracted the crumpled wad out of the potted palm. What follows, dear reader, is Caroline Dixon’s verbatim letter of “apology.” Mee-ow!
Dear everyone I have ever supposedly hurt:
Silly me—I thought I was going to a party the other night at my “friend” Penny Englehart’s to celebrate her new body (the boobs looked all right, although in my humble opinion, they could have tucked a little more tummy), only it turned out to be a gathering in celebration of a friend’s one-year anniversary of sobriety. Which of course meant no drinks . . . and no fun.
Mr. Clean told everyone how much his life had improved now that he’d gone through rehab and followed “the program.” I said the only program I care to follow is America’s Top Model and only because I like to bet on the loser!
He yammered on and on and I tried to listen, but could I help it if I nodded off? Lectures do that to me.
Okay, so a week later I was in Biarritz, dancing with Andreas Stenapoulos, and I accidentally stepped on one of his two left feet and broke his toe. A couple days later I got caught peeing on Laird Wright’s musty old yacht (note to his interior designer: is it my fault or yours that I mistook one of your decorative urns for a toilet?), and then at Princess Marlena of Austria’s luncheon, I broke a teacup that Queen Victoria had given to her great-grandmother. She did not seem to find it helpful when I asked her if she’d ever heard of superglue. Not even when I said, “Das superglue.”
Anyway, I realized that at all three of these events the common denominator was that I was plastered, and I thought, hmmm, should I forgo the deMarcos’ cruise invitation and book a vacation at Betty Ford’s instead? Then I sobered up and thought, “Nahhhhhhh, where’s the fun in that?”
But I can apologize, and apparently that’s a big thing in the “recovery program.” So here goes. To those I’ve ever supposedly hurt: sorry. I didn’t mean to do whatever it is that caused harm to you, but what can I say? I was drunk!
Besides, some of you deserve bigger apologies than I can give you. Penny—demand one from your plastic surgeon! Gina—ask for an apology and a refund from your acting teacher. Brad Somerset—whoever’s responsible for your lousy personality, make them say they’re sorry! My dear family—well, you’re exempted because I know you don’t believe in apologies, yours or anyone else’s!
But I do, and in fact, I’m sure that all of you are sorry for hurting me. If that’s the case, an apology will be taken into consideration.
Your friend, relative, employer, client, whatever,
Some show of sincere remorse, eh, people? Well, let’s not be petty, folks. Let’s send out to the poor little rich girl our best wishes for health and sobriety. Or not—why wish her something she obviously doesn’t want?
Hudson & Ashton Attorneys at Law Newport, Rhode Island
August 10, 20—
Dear Miss Dixon,
On behalf of Mr. Bradley Somerset, I am writing to inform you that a restraining order and/or charges will be filed should you make any further contact with my client.
Mr. Somerset requests the return of the engagement ring through my office.
Arthur Ashton Attorney at Law AA/ws
Thanks for the day-brightener. I might have DTs, but your client has delusions if he thinks I ever considered that crappy piece of zircon an engagement ring. Give me a break—I’ve found better rings around my tub. And believe me, Mr. Bradley Somerset doesn’t have to worry about any further contact from me—I’m taking penicillin right now to ward off anything I may have caught from earlier contact with him.
Have a nice day suing people,
August 14, 20—
Thanks for listening so long last night. You alone know what a hard anniversary it is for me to mark. (I can hear you now: “Then get out and make more friends to whom you can confide!”) I’ll take under advisement your suggestion to write the Kvitruds, but writing the letter isn’t the problem. The problem is mailing it.
I look forward to your visit. Friends like you are treasures in this life of mine that is increasingly lonely. It’s funny—I chose to be alone as a buffer against getting hurt, but lately I am finding loneliness brings with it its own pain.
Now I know for certain I won’t mail this note either; I can’t have you worried over what I’m sure is a passing mood—made worse, I’m certain, by the fact that I let myself run out of coffee. As you know, a morning started without coffee is a morning not really started.
Love, Your whining friend, Astrid
9:32 a.m. August 15, 20— To: revbill From: dfarms Subject: This weekend
Hope you’ve settled into your new retirement digs without too much hassle. Are you still wearing your collar on the golf course? No one would dare accuse you of cheating then. . . .
I’d love to visit Hot Springs and check out the new place, but not necessarily your new “cute” neighbor, so I’m going to take a rain check this weekend. I know it’s Bev more than you who tries to arrange these dates, but please, Bill, I’d rather you find new ways to serve the Lord than my social life.
Anyway, Becky just foaled and I’m not about to tear myself away from the fun of these next couple days.
August 17, 20—
Mummy and I were thrilled when your “letter” crossed the Atlantic and made an appearance in all the English papers! And then, what an added thrill to see the accompanying photo montage! How lovely to see Caroline ready to relieve herself on Laird’s yacht! Oh, and look at Caroline coming out of Versace greeting the world with her middle finger! And there she is photographed in a knock-down, drag-out fight in the lobby of the Bangkok Four Seasons with Gina Whelvan! Need I tell you that all these thrills sent Mummy directly to her bed?
When is it all supposed to end, Caroline? When will you take “tormenting friends & family” off your to-do list? You’re long past using “youthful indiscretion” as an excuse.
Also, in your “heartfelt” apology, I didn’t read any mention of you stealing my tennis bracelet or Garrett Tyson. But I suppose if you listed all your wrongdoings, it never would have been published because you’d still be writing it.
Gillian Caroline Dixon
August 20, 20—
In my defense:
1.That urn looked an awful lot like a toilet.
2.You try to shop with thirty million Roman paparazzi surrounding you.
3.Gina Whelvan started it. She filmed a ninja movie this past spring and apparently likes to reenact scenes from it in hotel lobbies.
4.I’m only twenty-six years old, hardly ready to cash in my pension, but then again, what would you know about youthful indiscretions? You’ve been a senior citizen since the day you were born.
5.I never stole your lousy tennis bracelet, and believe me, I did you a favor by stealing Garrett Tyson. Besides, I read his wife’s divorcing him, and if the prenup doesn’t hold up, maybe he’ll still have enough money for your taste. So go sic ’em, Gil!
Tell my mother and your mummy thanks for the support, as usual.
From the Hardcover edition.