At first I was reminded slightly of Wishful Thinking - with Chris (Hollywood superstar) and Amber, the off-the-wall press-darling who exerts a mysterious hold over him, as well as a heroine working in publishing. It's also reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada, but I'm happy to say it's very much its own story - and a truly engaging one too. The writing is a cut above what you usually find in the chick lit genre and the author draws you in very quickly and holds you transfixed throughout.
Some of the characters are beautifully drawn. It's impossible to dislike Amber for all her neediness and lack of consideration. She has a vulnerable, childlike quality you have to love and want to protect. She certainly steals the show for me. There are some other delightful characters, too, including Liz, Denton's mentor at Glitter; the fatherly chauffeur/bodyguard Mr John, and Raymond, the chef at Mamie's Bake Shop. Less likeable, in my opinion (though it's not easy to pinpoint why), is the gorgeous hero Chris West. He's a truly nice guy with a caring, protective nature, but remains a little too distant and secretive and, well…perfect, to allow us to get to know him too well. I suppose that's what super-stardom does to some people.
The New York setting is so powerfully drawn, it's almost like another character and really brings the story alive. Coming from the UK and never having been to NYC, this is exactly as I would imagine it; how it is portrayed in the most memorable movies. Catherine Hensley's skill with her descriptions is what lifts New York Dolls above average and makes it a visual and memorable story. I liked the twist at the end, but confess I anticipated it about half-way through. Nonetheless, it was executed well and provided a satisfying conclusion.
For me New York Dolls was a rewarding piece of escapism and for a début novel (which I assume this is) shows enormous promise. I would happily read more from this talented author and award her all five cute cats for this story.
About Catherine L. Hensley
A native of south Louisiana, Catherine received her master of arts degree in creative writing and media studies from New York University and her bachelor of arts degree in English from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, with minors in history and mass communication. Her writing has appeared in The Advocate (Louisiana’s largest newspaper), OT Practice magazine, Quiet Mountain: New Feminist Essays, and Mused, the BellaOnline Literary Review. For more, visit www.catherinehensley.com.