It’s not everyday that you get to read a book you find hard to put down. But I’m pleased to say that that was what I got when I delved into The Wardrobe Girl. It is Jennifer Smart’s debut novel and it’s a ripper.
Read on for more information on The Wardrobe Girl, my book review and an author interview with Jennifer Smart.
The Wardrobe Girl – Book Review
When Tess Appleby flees England, in a bid to escape a relationship disaster, she ends up slumming it as a wardrobe assistant on Pretty Beach – Australia’s iconic soap opera. Safe in Sydney, she thought her only troubles were going to be dealing with her frustrating sister and melodramatic mother.
Then Sean, the show’s serial-cheater and boyfriend to Bree, Pretty Beach’s lead actress, turns his eye on her, and she finds herself the hottest property in the newspaper’s gossip column. A veteran of messy public break-ups that was not the sort of attention she was after.
Her attempts to gain anonymity both on and off the set of Pretty Beach fail when Jake, her ex-fiancé, shows up as the new director and adds both her sister and mother to the cast.
Into all of this mix: an old flame of her mother’s; the antics of the cast and crew; Bree’s continuous attempts to slander her; the realisation that she still loves Jake; and her own innate ability to sabotage herself, and Tess becomes one hot mess.
The Wardrobe Girl offers a fascinating insight into the behind-the-scene workings of a soap opera. It made me laugh, and it made me cry, and with its witty dialogue and quirky characters it had me glued to its pages for the entirety of the story.
One of the things I particularly liked about this tale was its deviation from the typical underlying storyline in which the girl cannot be happy without a man. Instead of our heroine falling immediately into the hero’s arms, she realises what a disaster she is and removes herself from the situation, seeking help in solving the issue really at heart – herself. Finally she is able to realise that although she can be herself, be by herself, her life will be better with the man that she loves.
‘He was my North Star. The steady, shining light that guided me and helped me navigate through life. I could do it without him, I knew that, but it would be a darker, murkier voyage.’
I give The Wardrobe Girl four stars and look forward to reading more about Tess Appleby.
Jennifer Smart – Author Interview
Thanks so much for joining us today Jennifer. I want to start by saying how much I loved The Wardrobe Girl. I know you’ve spent some time as a scriptwriter on Home and Away, but is this the first novel you’ve written?
Yes, The Wardrobe Girl is the first novel I’ve written.
Apart from having a great storyline, The Wardrobe Girl gives us a fascinating insight into the making of a soap opera. Is working in the film industry similar to working in the television industry?
The TV and film industries are very similar, but they have some key differences. The pre and post production periods on films are much longer then they are for TV. The shoot days on film are usually a much slower pace than they are for TV. This is because the more complex lighting set ups for film require considerably more time. The camera moves on film may be more complicated and the use of film as opposed to digital/tape also has its own set of problems. So, on a show like Home and Away, they might film 15- 20 minutes a day, whereas a film may only shoot as little 30 seconds! Otherwise, the departments and the crew roles are pretty much the same.
Tess is such a loveable, klutzy, damaged character. I think we can all relate to her at some stage in our life. How did you come up with the idea for her and why did you choose to make her the wardrobe girl?
I chose to make Tess a wardrobe stand by because of the relationship and access she would have to the cast members. It’s a working relationship that involves a degree of intimacy, much like make-up or going to see your hairdresser. I also really like fashion and clothes and thought it would be fun to write about. As for how I came up with Tess, I’d have to say that I think she found me. Once I started writing, she such a clear voice, all I needed to do was listen.
Are there any more adventures ahead for the Appleby’s or will this be a stand-alone novel?
I am working on a sequel. Life will probably always be pretty interesting for Tess!
I notice that you live in Sydney. There are so many beautiful places there, what is your favourite one and why?
I live in Balmain and I love living here because of its proximity to the city, the gorgeous harbourside parks and its vibrant, creative community. Sydney is full of so many amazing places, but one of my favourites spots is Wendy Whitely’s Garden in Lavender Bay. I catch the ferry across from Balmain, hop off at the Luna Park wharf and wander around the bay to the garden. It’s so quiet there, with paths that lead to different terraced levels and private corners, glimpses of the Harbour Bridge and water. It has some beautiful sculptures installed throughout. I also love what it represents – a garden paradise nurtured from a wasteland of disused rail sidings as a way to help heal Wendy’s grief at losing her husband, the artist Brett Whitely and their daughter, Arkie.
What projects are you currently working on?
Currently I am working on book 2 and a children’s book about a ‘princess’ who lives in Balmain.
When you’re not working or writing, what do you like to do?
I have lots of interests. I adore the theatre, ballet and contemporary dance performances. The Art Gallery of NSW is one of my favourite haunts. I love movies, binging on DVD series – most recently Season 1 of The Killing (the Danish version). I knit, I tweet, I go to yoga and naturally, I read every day.
What’s the one thing you wish you were brave enough to do?
I wish I was brave enough to take Hip Hop classes at the Sydney Dance Co., – but the students & teachers are all so young and very cool.
Okay so you can’t come on my blog without undergoing a pop quiz. Here it is:
Butter or margarine?
Dessert or cheese?
Cats or dogs?
Beer or wine?
Swim or sunbake?
Misty mountains or tropical beaches?
Ice-cream or gelato?
I’ve quit sugar, otherwise gelato
Kids of fur-kids?
Kids – 3 daughters
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
If you had to be reincarnated as an animal which would you choose and why?
I’d like to be a cat – one of my cats!
Once again Jennifer, thanks so much for taking the time to let us get to know you a little better. I wish you all the best with the launch of The Wardrobe Girl. I am sure it will be incredibly successful.
Interested in purchasing The Wardrobe Girl? Click HERE to check it out on kindle.