Little Known Facts by Christine Sneed

A quick rundown… A look at the life of Renn Ivins, famous Hollywood actor and those around him.

Strengths: It’s the type of story where you want to savour every word.

Weaknesses: I didn’t want it to end.

Why I read it: Received from Bloomsbury Sydney – thank you!

Pages: 324

Published: 2013

Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus

Setting: America and France

Rating: 9 out of 10

Thought you had read all there was to read about fame? Think again – Little Known Facts takes a look at Hollywood fame, but seen mainly through the eyes of those around the famous person. The star in this book is Renn Ivins, actor and more recently director and writer, who has been in the game for years. Not only is this man talented, he has the looks and longevity that everyone craves in Hollywood. Renn is a star amongst stars. Like most stars, Renn also has a bit of a messy personal life. He divorced his first wife, Lucy when his children (Anna and Will) were growing up. His second marriage to Melinda ended badly – so much so that she’s releasing a tell all autobiography. Now he’s dating Elise, an up and rising star – who Will also has his eye on.

Written in long chapters – almost a short story format – each section covers someone close to Renn and how his stardom has affected their lives. His daughter Anna tries to have a ‘normal’ life by becoming a doctor – but her personal life more closely mirrors her father’s. Will doesn’t know what he wants in life and aimlessly moves from one thing to the next. His girlfriend Danielle admits that she is attracted to Renn, but will she take it further? Elise is having a good time with Renn, but she is increasingly aware of the age gap – and Will. Lucy reflects on her marriage to Renn and tries to move on, while Melinda needs to edit her book severely to tone down Renn’s secrets. And who is stealing random items of Renn’s?

It sounds complex, but it’s not. Sneed has created a beautiful jigsaw where everything falls into just the right place at the last moment. It is a perfectly structured book. This is a book to be savoured, reading each word carefully to extract all the competing emotions. Sneed also convinces me that it just may not be worthwhile to be related to a movie star! All the characters have been affected by Renn’s fame and generally not for the better (with the exception of Elise). This books shows the motivations of human nature – for example, Will is not motivated to work for money (he has plenty) and so can’t settle. Anna becomes more like her amoral father in her choice of affairs. Melinda starts off incredibly bitter, but appears to accept her time with Renn better than Lucy, who ruminates over her failed marriage for most of the book.

These characters absorbed me, followed me around as I stopped reading to work and study and wouldn’t let me rest until I found what became of them all. That’s how powerful Sneed’s creations were – I found myself a little in love with Renn and admiring Elise and Anna’s work ethic. Will was a funny character – he does stupid stuff and lacks motivation, but he was still likeable, particularly in the latter half of the book. I’d love to read Melinda’s book – it was wonderfully witty and divulging!

This is a book that opens in an understated way but has you bewitched by the end.

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