Book Review: Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt

34615412Synopsis: Hope’s mother is well known in the theatre world but, in order to make a name for herself, Hope secretly applies for a career-launching internship… and gets it. Trying to balance school work and the internship is not easy, particularly when she’s been assigned to assist the actor playing the lead role. With the help of her two friends and a new love interest, the show must go on!

Cover: I actually quite like the cover, though it is a little on the dark side. The background and set are predominantly blue and black. The title and a couple of hearts are on ropes as though they are part of the scenery that gets raised and lowered during a performance. And there are two people standing in a spotlight, clearly young despite being faceless, which allows them to be anyone we imagine them to be.

Setting: The story takes place in England, though you hardly take notice as the theatre is a world unto itself. Like any show, story starts in the theatre’s rehearsal space, before moving to the theatre itself and culminating with the opening night of the performance. There were moments when the novel is obviously British, but it is never detrimental to enjoying the story.

Plot: This novel does a decent job of depicting what it is like to be part of a show and all the effort that goes into a performance. From the rehearsals, the tech run, and the costume parade to the superstitions, friendships, and backstage romances. It was fairly accurate in comparison to my own experiences in community theatre and made me miss being part of a show.

POV: This book is told from the first-person perspective of a theatre crew member (namely a stage management intern) rather than in the cast. Hope is a seventeen-year-old high school student, but comes across as rather more mature than that… outside of living with and lying to her parents. Her maturity and knowledge made it hard to recall her age sometimes, as she came across more of a college student at the very least.

Romance: While one would expect the love story to be with the lead character, instead Hope develops a crush on a college student in the role of another of the play’s characters. This is far more believable, giving the book a greater realism rather than making it a fairy tale dream. Like any other regular girl, Hope spends the majority of the novel fighting her attraction as she is there to work and prove her professionalism rather than drool after a cute boy… even if he does prove irresistible in the end.

Theme: The overall aspect you come away from this novel is the sense of family the theatre gives you. In order for the show to succeed you have to work as a team with everyone doing their utmost to get things done right up until the final curtain call. From the very first rehearsal, these people become your everything —your supporters, your best friends, your worst enemies— and you share a bond that other people have difficulty understanding.

Relationship: Despite Luke being Hope’s love interest it is actually the interaction between Hope and Tommy, the movie star male lead, that intrigued me the most. Part of her job was the assist/“babysit” him, and she tended act rather motherly towards him despite the age gap of nearly fifteen years between them. Over time she earned his respect and we all got to see the person behind the actor’s mask. Even while being a proper pain, Tommy was actually mentoring Hope in her chosen career while she helped him find his feet in theatre world.

Unfulfilled Promise: The whole book was about Hope’s desire for a reference from the people she worked with in order to get into a good school program, yet the book ends without tying that up. I half expected Tommy to do something dramatic like pull Hope on stage or perhaps privately give her a letter of recommendation, but knew that was not entirely likely. However, I did expect the DSM to at least mention that Hope will get a great reference, or maybe even have an epilogue of Hope in college. Instead we’re just left hanging with the assumption she’ll get it because she deserves it after all she’d done.

Verdict: This book was a great read that I couldn’t put down; I love the theatre and this was practically like being back in a show. It is a fairly realistic depiction of what it’s like to be backstage with the added bonus of a sweet romance. The characters are simply fantastic, and I definitely recommend this book!


Previous Posts: Just FriendsTop10BritBooks, London Belongs to Me

Author: JaimeKristal

JaimeKristal is a freelance editor and writer. She started her book review blog "Tales of a Booklover" for the enjoyment of sharing her love of reading.

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