“Last Night at Chateau Marmont” by Lauren Weisberger

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I have finally decided to get rid of that list thing I had going on. My TBR list at home was never actually forty-five books high. I just keep adding books to it. One step forward, two steps back. I know the list confused/annoyed a lot of you so it is finally gone!

Last Night at Chateau Marmont was given to me six months ago by my best mate’s mum who had noticed I was dangerously close to finishing the book I was reading. I thanked her for her generosity, even though I had another book stashed in my suitcase. Because, as any good bookworm will tell you, you always need a backup when you’re nearing the end of your current literary squeeze.

If I had bought this book myself, or had it on loan from the library, I would have marked this DNF (Did Not Finish, for those of you unfamiliar with the acronym; like I was about three days ago). But because it was a gift, I stuck with it. Ugh, I hate guilt.

This. Book. Was. Terrible. Absolutely awful. One of those chick lit novels that give the genre its terrible name. The story revolves around the Alters: Brooke and Julian. They’ve been married for five years and for that time, Brooke had worked two jobs to support her struggling musician husband (don’t even get me started). The story starts when Julian actually makes it and becomes an overnight sensation, and the “struggles” that caused. And…that’s it. There is maybe one subplot: Brooke’s job. Our secondary cast get glossed over. Which sucks because the secondary cast is actually interesting. We have Nola, the gorgeous Samantha-Jones-from-Sex-and-the-City type. And, now that I think about it, she’s the only character with enough substance to be classed in the “secondary cast” category. none of the other characters were given much of a look in for any reason other than plot devices and a way to gauge how famous Julian is at any given point.

Oh, guys, I’m just getting warmed up.

Let’s start with our protagonist: Brooke.
What. A. Whinger. All she did was complain. And the worst part was that she only complained to us! She never communicated any of her fears or worries with the man she has decided to spend her life with. I mean, I guess I get it, because without that whinging Weisberger had no novel.
Worse than this was that Brooke never let onto Julian that she was unhappy. She followed some horrible advice of her mother’s that was essentially “always be happy when Julian gets home from anything music related because this is his huge break and it is way more important than your mental health”. And Brooke does it. Always. I mean, a lot of her problems would have been fixed if she had instigated a “hey, husband, I’m super happy for you but all of this fame stuff is really hard and I’m struggling to cope” conversation. But no, let’s bore the reader.

Now for Julian. What. A. Tool. He seemed like an alright guy at the beginning of the book, but then he becomes famous and lets it all go to his head. So much so that he starts telling Brooke to be a trophy wife and give up on her career goals, and that Brooke may be more comfortable if she lost a little weight because of paparazzi photos. Seriously! Brooke is always described as just carrying a little extra weight (read: healthy). She’s a nutritionist so she actually is in the healthy weight range. Her husband was just being a dick.
And whenever he flies home to spend time with Brooke, he is permanently glued to his phone, spending no time with her at all. God, I just hated him. And his wife.

The big “issue” in the story is that Julian waa photographed seducing a woman who isn’t his wife. Yes, he goes that far into the music scene. Instead of grovelling or, I don’t know, apologising, Julian essentially tells Brooke she has to suck it up, nothing had happened, and the fact that he’d made out with this woman and taken off her clothes didn’t matter because they didn’t have sex. Ugh! Not only that, but Julian and his manager forced Brooke to be all happy and smiley because they happened to be at the Grammy’s when the story broke. Disgusting. I don’t think Julian ever apologised in any real way for cheating on his wife and that, to me, is more unforgivable than the act itself.

But let’s talk about this big “issue” first. Although she does have every right to be mad and upset, Brooke storms off without ever actually seeing these photos with her own eyes. I mean, if it were me, I’d want to know exactly what I was angry about before I completely reacted. But no, Brooke lets her hunger (from her extensive Grammy’s preparation, where no food was provided) fuel her rage and she leaves. She never even sees the photos until the next day. What?!

And THEN, when Julian finally deigns to turn up to talk about his fuck-up, he doesn’t apologise. He doesn’t beg forgiveness. He shows up with a “game plan”, essentially telling Brooke what their lives would be like for the next few years. Apparently this was supposed to be the big romantic gesture, but I found it controlling and totalitarian.
Worst of all? Brooke ACCEPTS. She says yes to Julian’s lukewarm “will you marry me again?” when Nothing. Was. Resolved. At all. Brooke seems to me to be a person who enjoys being told what to do. It’s gross.

So now onto the “writing”. Shallow is the best description I can come up with. There is no deep meaning to this book, though Weisberger tried. Brooke works as a nutritionist at a high school, and she works with a girl named Kaylie who exhibits worrying eating-disorder-like symptoms. But this little subplot could have been developed and expanded upon but no, our horrible protagonists are more important.
Moving on from the lack of substance, let’s talk writing skill: there was none. A whole lot of telling instead of showing and a preoccupation with what people looked like. Was this preoccupation done ironically, showing the music and media industries’ preoccupation with appearance? No. This is how Weisberger described her characters. And for some reason, we always had to know exactly what Brooke was wearing. I didn’t care. I never did. And I never remembered. I actually skipped these descriptions. They did nothing but add more words to this catastrophe of a “novel”.

I shouldn’t have wasted my time finishing this book. Please don’t make my mistake:

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About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
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12 Responses to “Last Night at Chateau Marmont” by Lauren Weisberger

  1. Silent_Dan says:

    That’s pretty bad.

    One of the worst books I read for Uni was, ironically, not a Mills & Boon book (though the one I gave an honest go was creepy as hell).

    Metro was the most boring book I’ve ever read. It was only published because it was a ‘gay book’. Nothing happened in it. The characters did nothing, the only one with a brain died in a car crash, the main character gets head from someone’s little emo brother while his girlfriend’s away… and that’s it. That’s the whole story. I can’t remember anything else, because there wasn’t anything else.

    And Next by Michael Crichton was frustrating in so many ways, and I only got a few chapters in. I hated every character, there were too many stories going on and cutting back and forth, and the ideas I’d already read about before.

    Those are my two worst from Uni. The M&B one was at least better than those two – in a ‘this book is scary but it’s not supposed to be’ kind of way. It was fascinating, is what I’m trying to say.

    • Bec Graham says:

      Ugh, they sound terrible. What annoys me most is that these hacks are published whereas ao many writers with actual talent are overlooked. This pisses me off.
      The worst book I ever had to read for school, besides Frankenstein, was something called A Cage of Butterflies. Awesome concept but written to be as boring as possible. I hate that!

      • Silent_Dan says:

        Ugh. Crap gets published and does well, for some reason. Universities even put it on their courses. I guess they are obliged to put *some* crap on there, so that people at least talk about what makes a book crap?

      • Bec Graham says:

        I think publishers look at what could make a movie regardless of writing skill. Like, the plots are usually OK, they’re just executed horribly. But that can be redone in script form.

      • Silent_Dan says:

        True. I hope my work isn’t like that. :p I do have a VERY movie-oriented brain though. So I can easily imagine they’d make some. Or a TV series – I actually had visions of the auditions. Visions come true all the time, right?

        You know you’ve made it when you get a movie deal. Although, many movie adaptations do fall flat. I saw Seventh Son last week, it was decent. That’s really the most you can hope for, it seems. The only other decent adaptations that come to mind are Prince of Persia (seen it) and Gone Girl (haven’t seen it, kinda had to be spoiled to explain it) and Harry Potter to some degree (things went pretty right there, though they cut one of my favourite lines from book 5). The more popular the book, the more they’ll push to make a movie. That’s the business. They often do it for cynical, monetary reasons. And they tend to not be very good for that very reason. Guess that’s just how it goes.

      • Bec Graham says:

        Yep. The whole movie part of the book industry is just weird. But Hollywood ran out of ideas ages ago. So they need authors for script ideas.
        The only adaptations that I’ve seen that have been any good are the Hunger Games movies and The Green Mile. The HP movies were alright but also not, for me anyway.

        I think many authors write with films in mind now, so it’s all good! And if your work ever becomes a movie hopefully you get more creative control than some other writers!

      • Silent_Dan says:

        Movies are the new books and games are the new movies. Obviously.

        I hope I get just the right amount of creative control. How much is that? I’d say 50% or more. I want to be able to say “oh hell no!” if something they’re going to do will be crap. I don’t mind if they go a different direction, in the spirit of creativity and the whole adaptation sphere… but if they’re going to make it crap through stupid, executive-meddling reasons, I want to be able to tell them where to stick it. But fuck it, I WILL tell them where to stick it, if they’re being stupid. But not till I see the product. As long as I can see it first, and am allowed to tell them why their ideas are stupid, and they do the right thing in the end, then I’m okay with adaptations.

      • Bec Graham says:

        I think once you’ve seen the finished product it’s too late to make changes. Way too expensive to find someone else.
        Just be like Stephen King and be an Executive Producer

  2. jewey says:

    hahaha. i enjoyed reading your review about the book. but it was your passionate disgust against the story and the characters that i found really amusing. mainly because i do the same too when i finish a book and realize that i spent all those hours reading shit. and finishing it for the sake of finishing it, hoping the story would improve at some point, only to discover that i’ve reached the end of the pages and that was all there is to it.

    i’m trying to remember books i hated with passion because they were mind-numbingly boring or purely shallow. i can’t. which is good. no point in storing rubbish in the bookshelves of my mind. lol.

    • Bec Graham says:

      I just don’t understand how authors can hate their readers so much! Like, what did we ever do to them? It’s like they’re trying to prove how much money they can make us spend buy having us spend money on crap just because the author had one decent book.
      If that book hadn’t been a gift, I would’ve thrown it across the room and left it DNF. Stupid book

      • jewey says:

        lol. you’re funny.

        i’m a cheapskate when it comes to books, to be honest. i like them better borrowed or secondhand. hehe.

      • Bec Graham says:

        I do try hahaha
        And I wish I were different with books. I just love the way new books smell. It’s a teensy bit like an addiction…

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