Starstruck by Beth Miller – two women, a swap and the search for real life in a very funny novel

Starstruck by Beth Miller

A whole new life is on offer in this book, but perhaps the reality of celebrity in the twenty-first century is not always easy to live with for anyone unused to stardom. This is a very funny novel with sparky dialogue and humorous characters, as well as a sprinkle of the stardust which some people seem to be born with. It tells the story of Sally Marshall , who is reasonably happy with her life with Paul and her job as a tribute act for the global superstar Epiphanie. While it involves working in some fairly dodgy pubs and places, it means that she can be on stage and keep her dreams of being a performer alive. One day, out of the blue, Epiphanie in all her enhanced flesh turns up in the kitchen and makes Sally and Paul an offer that they cannot refuse; for two weeks Sally will become Epiphanie and perform at some eye wateringly huge concerts in America while Epiphanie pretends to be Sally pretending to be her.While it could be a straightforward and well rewarded swap, Sally has little idea of what is to come, as being a star is so much more than entertaining thousands of people. 

This is an immensely entertaining book which is based around a simple idea. If someone physically resembles a star, or can be made to do so, it must be easy to imitate them. In this case Sally proves to have a struggle on her hands, which half the chapters describe in her voice. The logistics of immense wealth and fame are difficult to cope with, what makes this harder is that no one must suspect that a swap has been made. They are very different people; Sally is naturally friendly and generous, Epiphanie has been isolated from “normal” life for decades and has developed very different expectations and demands when there are thousands if not millions of people fascinated by her every move. The characters are amazing; apart from the two main protagonists there is the hapless Paul who has certain problems sharing a small house with officially the sexiest woman in the world, the icy Charmaine and the memorable Indigo. When even neighbours, security men and others get involved, life gets complicated, and especially as a bodyguard develops an addiction to tea and the local Lidl. For anyone who has ever wondered about what it must be like to live the life of the immensely wealthy, even for a short time, this is a funny and very human book which I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read and review.

Sally is soon whisked away to a new life in a plane where the entirety of the First Class area is bought up to give her privacy, especially as she discovers that it is a steep learning curve to become a star. She does refuse surgery to enhance her likeness to Epiphanie, but is told that the transformation of walking, talking, moving and generally behaving like the star is going to take many hours. Sally also generally enjoys her food, and is now forced to accept small portions of anything except carbohydrates, and can only beg for sweet treats. Meanwhile Paul is coping with entertainment venues that are confused by the real Epiphanie having far more star quality than Sally, and having to tell the world’s greatest star to tone it down and cover her most visible assets. 

This story works on many levels; a comedy of confusion and surprises of how the other half live, a complex comparison of how wealth and fame can limit a life, and a realisation of what is important in life. Sally’s descriptions of what it feels like to really find oneself in a dream of performing to thousands of people and finding a reality are wonderful as well as her frustrations and missing her real life. This is a really entertaining and uplifting book in so many ways, and is genuinely funny throughout.