Bittersweet by Melanie La’Brooy
Reviewed by Helen Simons
Sabrina Falks is the golden girl: a beautiful, successful actress who is engaged to the too-good-to-be-true Edward. Her life is glamorous and seemingly perfect – apart from her recurring desire to run away.
Her younger sister, Mimi, is funny and bright but hopelessly lost, with no career prospects, no money, no love life and a string of disastrous mistakes in her past.
Estranged since a fight over their dark family history, Sabrina and Mimi enter into a reluctant alliance when Sabrina hires Mimi to be her bridesmaid. The sisters then do battle with the intrusive paparazzi, out-of-control dress designers, and, increasingly, each other.
As the wedding day approaches, long-buried family secrets emerge, and Sabrina and Mimi find themselves facing some unforeseen home truths.
Marriage, celebrity culture and the bittersweet bonds of family take centre stage in this warm, funny novel that sparkles with wit and wisdom.
OK, I have to be honest here and say that my first impression of this book wasn’t good. It looked and sounded like a pretentious novel about how grand life is when you are wealthy and good looking, that it would be too ‘high brow chick-lit’ for my tastes. I started it and thought I would really struggle with it due to my first impression. But, I LOVED IT!! I found that the focus wasn’t really on Sabrina’s success’s and Mimi’s failures, but more on the difficulties that being family can have on relationship’s and prejudges.
It is told mostly from Mimi’s eyes, and we come in when she returns from overseas, broke, jobless and feeling fragile and lonely. Sabrina is getting married in 12 months and needs a Matron of Honour to be able to take over the organising of the wedding. She hires Mimi and pays her a great wage to be her girl Friday. Much to Mimi’s surprise she enjoys her new role, and the sisters start to get to know each other again, we see a lot of ‘the grass is always greener’ coming through, until they eventually sit down and talk (as most of the communication for the wedding is done by email and phone.) Some interesting secrets are revealed continually throughout the story, but as a reader I never felt like I was lost or hanging on waiting for the ‘BIG’ secret, and there a few great twists, that also flow and suit the way the story is written.
I found that the book was more about the complexities of families, their past and hidden secrets, and people’s feelings, than the blurb lead me to believe. The author touched on the paparazzi and celebrity culture, but it was by no means the main focus of the book, and just added to the story and misconceptions that people have. While I was reading this book I felt like I was wrapped in a warm blanket drinking a hot chocolate, as it dealt with deep issues like dieting, drugs, alcoholism, abuse and cheating but in a light, witty and hilarious way, that I never felt weighed down or burdened.
I would recommend this book to anyone that wants a funny, warm, sarcastic book about the way families can both help and hinder us along our own personal life journey. I wouldn’t let my husband read it, but will certainly tell my girlfriends about it and definitely recommend that they read it.