Book Review · Interviews

How’d you like to spend A Night in with Audrey Hepburn?

24862545I admit: when I finished Lucy Holliday’s A Night in with Audrey Hepburn, I almost went berserk, at the time unaware that this was the first in a three-book series. I calmed down (some) when Lucy’s publicist informed me I would soon have the sequel in my impatient hands … but that still meant I had to wait, like, a whole month. When you love a series, a month HURTS, okay? And I do love the Libby Lomax Series.

Libby is a failed actress who likes submerging herself in the pretend world of classic films, especially those featuring the beautiful, charming Ms. Audrey Hepburn. After a serious fudge up at work, Libby is prepared to sob her sorrows into her new, ugly, vintage couch until Audrey (yes, THAT Audrey) shows up and starts giving her advice about fashion, love, and what life is all about.

A Night in with Audrey Hepburn is hilarious and cheeky. Libby is the perfect mix of hysterical, level-headed, and lovable, as is Audrey, of course. However, as Libby’s life spins out of control, can even the famed Ms. Hepburn show her the way back to sane? Then again, how sane is it to spend time with a dead Hollywood icon? Well.

As I prepare to delve into book two (A Night in with Marilyn Monroe), meet author Lucy Holliday, a gift to the literary world and my world, as well.

What’s so magical about Audrey Hepburn anyway?

What’s NOT magical about Audrey Hepburn? Seriously, when I was first thinking about this slightly nuts idea about a magical sofa and Hollywood icons, Audrey Hepburn was the first, and most obvious, inhabitant of the sofa that sprang to mind. I don’t know if it’s her real life, which she herself always seemed to regard as magical (surviving the Nazis and then becoming a world-famous movie star) or the magic she displays on screen… A bit of both, perhaps? The more I read and wrote about her, the more “magical” she became, somehow. And even though I’ve always found her beauty to be quite magical, it’s actually more than that. She kind of exuded something more than “mere” beauty. Star quality? Kindness? Humanity? Magic…?

Do you have any personal experience as an actress?

Lucy, pulling her best Audrey pose.
Lucy, pulling her best Audrey pose.

I do indeed have a very little personal experience as an actress. I was a fully-committed stars-in-my-eyes thespian while I was at school (and I have a horrible feeling my daughter is headed the same way…) and then I had big ambitions to become a West End star of musicals. Only problem, I was nowhere NEAR good enough. Fortunately I realised this myself before having to make anybody else break the news to me. Oh, and I am in fact an extra, a bit like Libby Lomax, in one episode of a very well-known British sitcom called One Foot In The Grave. It was about 20 years ago and the main thing I remember is how exciting the on-location catering bus was. Perhaps that’s where Olly came from…

You are SO GOOD at humor. What are some tips for writing funny?

Tips for writing funny… er… that’s very, very difficult to say! Don’t try too hard to be funny. And yet, conversely, work really hard at actually crafting the jokes when you’ve got a sniff of them. But… yeah. Don’t try too hard. When I try too hard, it all goes horribly (and I mean HORRIBLY) wrong.

Libby hooks up with a serious celebrity hunk. Who’s your celebrity crush, and why?

Mmmm Daniel Craig mmmm.
Mmmm Daniel Craig mmmm.

Who ISN’T my celebrity crush? (insert blush emoji here…) I’m always partial to a bit of Daniel Craig, because… well, I’m alive. I have a sort of secret (not so secret now) and guilty crush on Christian Bale, because clearly I must have a Thing for intense men who look good in Batman costumes. Oddly, given these other two, I have a very soft spot for Eddie Redmayne, whom I once bumped into in Selfridges (and he apologised to ME) so in his case, I think the perfect manners and charm must do it. Hm, this all sounds too Brit-centric… I kind of love Matt Damon, too. I can imagine he and I would get on very well together. In fact, I once bumped into HIM (star encounters aren’t usually my thing, by the way) on the back staircase of a hotel in Cambridge, England. I was sleep-deprived and looked like a wild woman having just had a non-sleeping baby three months earlier. He was lovely, and smiled gorgeously at me, and said he was lost… obviously, if I HADN’T looked like a wild woman, this encounter would have ended quite differently. I mean, I feel sure of it. Right?

This is the first in a three book series. The second one will feature Marilyn Monroe. How are you choosing your Hollywood icons? Can we get a teaser about book three’s featured guest?

The first two icons were chosen very easily indeed… like I say, Audrey just “came” to me, and Marilyn was a pretty close second. They’re just the two really obvious ones, when you’re thinking about true Hollywood icons, and fascinating women that other women can really relate to. As for the third… a BIG teaser… also a 50s star, another VERY iconic look, a muse of Alfred Hitchcock, and the inspiration for a famous Hermes bag… amongst other things!

Do you have a favorite picture of Audrey? If so, which is it?

The legend: Ms. Audrey Hepburn.

I had this image in my head a lot as I was writing. I think it shows the “real” Audrey, goofy and adorable, and how many of us could still look THIS beautiful when pulling THAT face…?

To buy this amazing book RIGHT THIS SECOND, head to Amazon. To keep up with all things Lucy Holliday, follow her on Twitter!


My Week with Marilyn

What is it about Marilyn Monroe? It wasn’t just her looks. She was America’s sweetheart, “The Blonde Bombshell.” She was everything men wanted and everything women wanted to be—curvy, charming, and maybe a bit wild. Her memory lives on and on, generation to generation, yet I’m not sure we can even call her a gifted actress. Put it this way: she was no Vivien Leigh or Elizabeth Taylor. However, Marilyn—little Norma Jeane Mortenson—is possibly the most recognized actress in history.

Last year, My Week with Marilyn was released with a new take on this goddess of film. Based on the detailed journal of Brit Colin Clark (who worked as a gofer on the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl), the movie garnered Michelle Williams an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for portraying the ageless diva. It is a film not to be missed, if only for Williams’ performance.

Uptight Sir Laurence Olivier is making a movie in London. Colin Clark finagles himself a job on the set. When Monroe arrives for the start of shooting, all of London is excited to see the blonde bombshell, while Olivier struggles to meet her many demands and acting ineptness. Basically, Monroe is a mess, addicted to her alcohol and pills. Young Colin’s can’t help but be infatuated with her, however, and soon, she invites him into her inner world where she struggles with her fame, her beauty, and her desire to be a great actress.

The real Marilyn, on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, 1957.
As I said, this film is based on a true story, documented in Colin Clark’s book, The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set With Marilyn and Olivier. Internet Movie Database—the best movie reference site in the world—backs up Clark’s story. According to IMDB, Olivier was driven so mad by Monroe’s difficult behavior that he practically abandoned directing. Also at the time of filming, Monroe suffered from various illnesses and a miscarriage. No wonder the woman was a mess!

But what a beautiful mess. The transformation of Michelle Williams is incredible. It’s easy to believe she really is Marilyn Monroe. She embodies the classic actress’s movements, voice, and look flawlessly. She also embodies Monroe’s pain in a fashion that is truly Oscar-worthy. Kenneth Branagh plays a pitch perfect Olivier (he even kind of looks like the guy!), while young actor Eddie Redmayne is wonderfully believable as the love-struck Colin Clark.

My Week with Marilyn made me think a lot about Ms. Monroe. I do not believe she was a happy person, if Williams’ portrayal is anything close to fact. She was so beautiful and so adored, but she was constantly afraid of being left alone—just like when her father abandoned her as a child and her mother left her for the insane asylum. Monroe is something of a tragic hero, a drug addict who probably suffered from deep, deep depression. It’s sad to think of her dying so young, at the mere age of thirty-six, all alone, after having taken too many pills. I wish she could have found lasting happiness, like so many of the characters in her films.

Will the real Marilyn please stand up??
Although Marilyn Monroe’s life ended in tragedy, the film My Week with Marilyn is not tragic at all. It is more focused on Colin Clark’s devotion to the starlet, the first real love of his life. The snippet of Monroe’s life portrayed in this picture is a troubled time during her short and tumultuous marriage to playwright Arthur Miller. However, we know (thanks to IMDB) that she went on to act in my favorite of her films, Some Like It Hot, right after. We know she continued to be America’s sweetheart, and it’s safe to say she still is, even today.

Marilyn Monroe lives on through her films and through films like this one. My Week with Marilyn is an honest, painful glimpse into the life of a distressed, beautiful young woman and the thousands who loved her then, and let’s face it—still love her today.