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Not Without You

Not Without You

3.6 7
by Harriet Evans

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From internationally bestselling author Harriet Evans comes an intriguing and fresh new novel about a famous modern-day actress whose fate becomes intertwined with a glamorous movie star from the 1950s who vanished many years earlier.


Sophie Leigh’s real name is Sophie Sykes. But she


From internationally bestselling author Harriet Evans comes an intriguing and fresh new novel about a famous modern-day actress whose fate becomes intertwined with a glamorous movie star from the 1950s who vanished many years earlier.


Sophie Leigh’s real name is Sophie Sykes. But she hasn’t been called that for years, not since she became an A-list movie star. Living in Los Angeles, she can forget all about the life she left behind in England. But she’s lost something of herself in the process, too.

Glamorous 1950s starlet Eve Noel had none of Sophie’s modern self-confidence. She didn’t choose her name. A Hollywood producer did. In fact, he made all her decisions—what to wear, when to smile, who to love. Right up until the day she simply vanished from the spotlight. No one knows where she went, or why.

As Sophie’s perfect-on-the-outside world begins to crumble, her present col­lides with Eve’s past. She must unravel the mystery around her idol’s disappear­ance before it’s too late for them both.

Editorial Reviews

Sunday Mirror
"The shallow LA of today is wittily satirized, and the more glamorous age of the 50s brilliantly recalled."
"This cleverly constructed tale about the interwoven lives of two Hollywood actresses will have you gripped from the very first page. Dripping with dark humour, gritty realism, with a little bit of romance thrown in, too, it's an absorbing read."
"A multifacted tale of fading fame and shifting fortunes."
New York Times bestselling author Hester Browne
“Oh, I loved Not Without You! I just couldn't stop reading. Anyone who loves the old-fashioned romance of black and white movies, or wishes they could step into the film or behind the Hollywood sound stages, will love Eve's 1950s story; anyone who wonders what it's really like to be modern-day box office royalty will be gripped by Sophie's. Harriet Evans conjures up the glamour, pressures, and euphoria of life as a star, yet she creates two very real heroines treading the precarious tightrope of fame. It's a novel that your ace through hungrily, yet don't want to end, thanks to characters who feel like friends from the first page.”
"This is more than your average chic lit. The stories of Sophie and Eve take center stage here, providing a refreshing and absorbing depth and complexity. A fascinating look at the Hollywood machine of past and present and those who have struggled within it."
Kirkus Reviews
A-list movie star Sophie Leigh has had enough of cheesy chick flicks, but her agent won't hear of her turning down The Bachelorette Party, not with gorgeous Patrick Drew already signed on to co-star. Like her idol, Eve Noel, a 1950s starlet, Sophie has little control over her career--not if she wants to make money for the box office, that is. Hollywood producers changed Eve's name, her wardrobe and even her hairline to generate cinematic hits. Eventually, she's even told to marry the much older, more powerful, but very dangerous actor Gilbert Travers. Yet, the industry can't erase her memories of her sister Rose's drowning or her own inconvenient love for Don Matthews, a powerless, alcoholic, yet loving screenwriter. After discovering their tryst, Gilbert arranges to have Don eliminated from her life. And one day, Eve disappears. Sixty years later, Sophie still has to change her name and endure not only arranged dating, but also a paparazzi-fueled public that turns a little sweat into Armpitgate. Inspired by Eve's film A Girl Named Rose, Sophie's determined to shepherd through the system her own independent film. Although it needs some work, My Second-Best Bed has the potential to be a real film. Troubles escalate when someone begins sending threatening notes and sneaking into Sophie's home to leave white roses on her bed. Can she trust her co-star? Her director? Her new assistant? As Sophie tries to advance her project and solve the mystery of Eve's disappearance while avoiding her stalker, her life becomes more and more entwined with Eve's. Soon, it's Eve who holds the keys to Sophie's survival. A Star Is Born meets All About Eve, Evans' (Happily Ever After, 2012, etc.) latest deftly weaves together tales of old and new Hollywood, allowing star-crossed romance, mystery and danger to collide in surprising and often devastating ways.

Product Details

Gallery Books
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5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Not Without You

  • “And . . . coming up next . . . Sophie Leigh’s diet secrets! How the British beauty stays slim, and the answer is . . . you won’t believe it! Chewing cardboard! I know, these stars are crazy, but that’s Hollywood for you. That’s all when we come back . . .”

    IT’S A BEAUTIFUL May morning. We’re on the 101, on our way into Beverly Hills. I’m heading into my agent’s office and I feel like crap. I’m super late, too. I’m always late, but when your most recent picture had an opening weekend of $23 million it doesn’t matter. I could turn up at Artie’s mom’s funeral and demand to have a meeting and he’d clear the synagogue and thank me for coming.

    I flip the TV off and chuck the remote across the car, out of temptation’s reach. There was a time when a ten-second trail like that would have sent me into a tailspin. They’re saying I chew cardboard? But it’s bullshit! People’ll believe it, and then they’ll . . . they’ll . . . Now I just shrug. You have to. I’ve never chewed cardboard in my life, unless you count my performance in that action movie. It’s a slow news day. Sometimes I think they stick a pin in a copy of People magazine to choose their next victim and then make something up.

    When you’ve been famous for a while, you stop reacting to stuff like this. It just becomes part of life. Not your life, but the life you wake up to and realize you’re living. People filming you on a phone when you’re washing your hands in the ladies’ room. Girls from school who you don’t remember, selling your class photo to a tabloid. Being offered $5 million to sleep with a Saudi prince. Working with stars who won’t ever take off their sunglasses, ’cause they think you’re stealing their soul if you see their eyes. Sounds unbelievable, right? But there’s been some days when I almost know what they mean. I know why some of them go bat-shit crazy, join cults, wear fake pregnancy bellies, marry complete strangers. They’re only trying to distract themselves from how totally nuts being famous is. Because that’s what fame is actually about, these days. Not private jets; diamond tiaras; mansions; and free clothes, handbags, shoes. Fame is actually about how you stay sane. How you don’t lose your mind.

    I know I’m lucky. It could have been any one of hundreds of hopeful English girls from small towns with pushy mums who curled their hair and shoved them into audition rooms, but it was me, and I still don’t quite know why. All I know is, I love films, always have, ever since I was little. Lights down, trailers on, credits rolling; I knew all the studio logos by the time I was eight. My favorite was always Columbia’s—the toga lady holding the glowing torch like the sun. And I know I’m good at what I do: I make movies for people to sit back and smile at on a Friday night with their best friend and their popcorn, watching while Sophie Leigh gets into another crazy situation. Okay, it’s not Citizen Kane, but if it’s a bit of fun and you could stand to watch it again, is there anything wrong with that?

    Lately I’ve been wondering, though: maybe there is. Maybe it’s all wrong. The trouble is, I can’t work out how it all got like that. Or what I should do about it. In Hollywood, you’re either a success or you’re a failure. There’s no in-between.

    • • •

    The freeway is crowded, and as we slow down to turn off I look up and there I am, right by the Staples Center on a billboard the size of your house. I should be used to it, but still, after six years at the top, it’s weird. Me, doing my poster smile: cute chipmunk cheeks, big, dark eyes peeking out from under the heavy trademark bangs, just the right amount of cleavage so the guys notice and don’t mind seeing the film. I’m holding out a ringless hand, smiling at you. I’m cute and friendly.

    Two years of dating. She’s thinking rocks. No, not those ones, fellas . . .



    MAY 2012

    My phone rings and I pick it up, gingerly, rubbing my eyes. “Hi, Tina,” I say.

    “You’re okay?” Tina asks anxiously. “Did the car come for you?”

    “Sure,” I say.

    “The clothes were okay? Did you want anything else?”

    Do I want anything else? The late-morning sun flashes in reflected rays through the windows; I jam my sunglasses on and sink lower against the leather seats, smiling at the memory of his asking the very same question last night, then taking my clothes off piece by piece, getting the camera out, and what we did afterward. Oh, it’s probably insane of me, this whole thing but . . . wow. He knows what he’s doing, and it’s fun, for once, to not be in charge. And I’m not stupid. I’m not some idiot who lets herself be filmed by a douche bag who puts it on the Internet.

    “I’m good. Thanks for arranging it all.”

    “No problem.” Tina is the most efficient assistant on the planet. She looks worried all the time, but I don’t think she actually cares where I was last night. “There’s a couple of things. Okay?”

    “Go ahead.” I’m staring out the window, trying not to think about last night, smiling and biting my lip because . . . well, I’m exhausted, that kind of up-all-night skanky, hungry, and a little bit hungover exhausted. And I can’t stop smiling.

    “So . . .” Tina’s voice goes into her list-recital monotone. “The People interview is tomorrow. They’ll come by the house. Ashley will arrive at eight a.m. Belle is doing your makeup frosty pink and mushroom—she says the vibe is Madonna eighties glamour meets environmental themes.” Tina takes a breath. “DeShantay wants to drop off some more outfits for the Up! Kidz Challenge Awards. She has a dress from McQueen and she says to tell you you’re gonna love it. It’s cerise, has cap sleeves, and it’s—”

    “I don’t want to sweat,” I say. “Tell her no sleeves.”

    “DeShantay says it won’t be a problem.”

    “I’m not—” I begin, then I stop, as I can hear myself sounding like a bit of a tool. “Never mind. That’s great. Anything else?”

    “Tommy’s coming over later this week to talk through endorsements.” Tommy’s my manager. “And he’s gotten Us Weekly to use some new shots of you doing yoga on the beach. The shots of you grocery shopping are running again, in In Touch. And TMZ wants the ones of you getting the manicure, only they need to reshoot—”

    “Okay, okay,” I say, trying not to feel irritated, because it’s so fake when you say it out loud, but it’s true, and everyone does it. You can so tell when people don’t want their photo taken and when they do, and the ones of me pushing a shopping cart through the Malibu Country Mart wearing the new Marc Jacobs sandals and a Victoria Beckham shift, holding up some apples and laughing with a girlfriend, came out the same week as The Girlfriend and I’m telling you: it’s part of the reason that film has done so well. It’s all total bullshit, though. The clothes were on loan, and the friend was Tina. My assistant. And I don’t go food shopping; I’ve got a housekeeper. Be honest. If you had someone to do all that for you, would you still go pushing a shopping cart around the supermarket? Exactly. Today stars have to look like normal, approachable people. Fifty years ago, it was the other way around. My favorite actress is Eve Noel; I’ve seen all her movies a million times, and A Girl Named Rose is my favorite film of all time, without a doubt. You didn’t have photos of Eve Noel in some 1950s Formica store buying her groceries in a dress Givenchy loaned her. Oh, no. She was a goddess—remote, beautiful, untouchable. I’m America’s English sweetheart. Pay $3.99 for a weekly magazine and you can see my nipples in a T-shirt doing the sun salutation on Malibu beach.

    Another thing: I starved myself for three days to fit into that fucking Victoria Beckham dress. That girl sure loves the skinny.

    We’re off the highway, gliding down the wide boulevards of Beverly Hills, flanked on either side by vast mansions: old-looking French chateaux wedged right next to glass-and-chrome cubes next to English Gothic castles, Spanish haciendas, and the rest. On my first trip here, with my best friend, Donna, both of us aged nineteen, driving around LA in a brown Honda Civic, these houses blew our minds—they looked like a child’s toy town. It’s funny how things change. Now they seem normal. I know a couple of people who live in them, and I haven’t seen Donna in nearly seven years. Where is she now? Still living in Shamley, last time I googled her.

    We’re coming up to Wilshire and I need to check my makeup. “I’ll see you later,” I tell Tina. “Thanks again.”

    “Oh—one more thing. I’m sorry, Sophie. Your mom called again.” I stiffen instinctively. “She says you have to call her back.” Tina clears her throat. “Deena’s coming to stay with you. Tonight.”

    The compact mirror drops to the floor.

    “Deena? She can’t just— Tell her she can’t.”

    Tina’s voice is apologetic. “Your mom said she has roaches and it needs to be sprayed and . . . she’s got nowhere to go.”

    Deena is my mum’s best friend. And my godmother. And a crazy person. “I don’t care. Deena is not bloody staying. Why’s she getting Mum to phone up and do her dirty work for her anyway? No. No way.”

    My head feels like it’s in a vise. It always aches when I don’t eat: I’m trying to lose ten pounds before The Bachelorette Party starts shooting.

    “Her cell is broken. That’s why. So—uh—okay.” Tina’s tone conveys it all. She keeps me on the straight and narrow, I sometimes think. I’d be a Grade A egomaniac otherwise.

    I clear my throat and growl. “Look. I’ll try and call Mum and put her off. Don’t worry about it. Listen, though, if Deena turns up . . .” Then I run out of steam. “Watch her. Make sure she doesn’t steal anything again.”

    “Sure, Sophie,” says Tina, and I end the call with a sigh, trying not to frown. There are wrinkles at the corners of my eyes and lines between my eyebrows; I’ve noticed them lately. The Sophie Leigh on the poster doesn’t frown. She doesn’t have wrinkles. She’s twenty-eight, she’s happy all the time, and she knows how great her life is. That’s not true. I’m thirty, and I keep thinking I’m going to get found out.

  • Meet the Author

    Harriet Evans is the internationally bestselling author of Going Home, A Hopeless Romantic, The Love of Her Life, I Remember You, Love Always, Happily Ever After, Not Without You, and A Place for Us. She lives in London. Visit her website at Harriet-Evans.com.

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    Not Without You 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    How do you expect us to buy a book when there is NO description at all? Do we just pay and hope? Are you kidding!?
    47Musician More than 1 year ago
    Goodreads First Reads Winner! I can hardly describe what I thought of this book. Words can't describe how I loved the complexity of the characters and the interweaving of life stories. Need to read it again, in one sitting, to fully comprehend and appreciate the beauty of this incredible novel. The cover is brilliant. The book is comfortable in size and easy to hold. Best wishes to Ms. Evans. I can't wait to read more of your work!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A well constructed story that pulls you along. One of the best books I've read this year.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I could not get into this book. Terrible.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Or two subjects if you expect a sale andnot pig in a poke
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    could not put this book down!!!  loved it from start to finish- was sad when it was over 
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a wonderful peak into how Hollywood works now and back in the 50's. The characters are flawed, but very likable. I would highly recommend this book.