By Lauren Weisberger
Available now from Atria
If you've read a book by Lauren Weisberger before, you know the basics of the experience. It will be set in New York; it will deal with the difficulty of balancing careers and personal lives. Her books also have a nice authoritative tone - you feel like you're getting real dish.
Right now HBO is developing a miniseries about the history of Chateau Marmont. For those who haven't heard of it - I hadn't before Weisberger's LAST NIGHT AT CHATEAU MARMONT - it is a hotel that has been hosting celebrities since the 60's. In the case of the novel, the celebrity is Julian Alter.
Brooke Alter is a nutritionist who has been supporting her husband's musical career. They can only afford a small apartment, where they live with their adorably named dog Walter Alter. And it pays off when Julian gets a deal with Sony. Soon he's appearing on Leno . . . and both of them are appearing in the tabloids. As her husband leaves home more and more often to make appearances, Brooke feels increasingly stressed and isolated.
Weisberger sets up LAST NIGHT AT CHATEAU MARMONT well. The book takes awhile to reach the promised stay at the Chateau, but that gives the reader time to see Brooke and Julian's relationship before it is strained. When Julian is at his worst, Brooke's continuing hope for their relationship is understandable.
The insider tone was briefly ruined for me. The characters go to the Hula Hut in Austin . . . which is neither a dive restaurant nor famous for its queso. It's a mid-priced Tex-Mex/Polynesian fusion restaurant on Lake Austin. It makes me question how well other locales are described.
But it didn't bother me too long. LAST NIGHT AT CHATEAU MARMONT is funny and quick. Things do reach a low point, but I would not say it gets as depressing as some chick lit. Ultimately, the book is about Brooke and Julian's marriage and whether it can survive unwanted celebrity and the rock-and-roll lifestyle.
(And can I add that it was super cool to be in New York when the state legalized gay marriage?)