I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
About The Book
THEY CANNOT BE TOGETHER AND THEY CANNOT BE APART.
Whitman ‘Win’ Tagore and Leo Milanowski are the greatest love story of our time. International movie star meets the beautiful son of a millionaire. Their kisses write headlines and their fights break the internet. Nobody needs to know it’s not real.
Win knows that Hollywood demands perfection – especially from a woman of colour.
Leo just wants to enjoy life, and shift press attention away from his dysfunctional family.
Together they control the narrative.
Except this time, on the shores of Saint-Tropez, Leo is hiding a secret that is about to send Win’s world spinning. Now everyone’s dream couple must confront the messy reality of their relationship. Just as they’re starting to realise that they might actually be falling in love…
The View Was Exhausting by married couple Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta has been on my radar for a while now, I loved the sound of it and thought that it sounded like a sexy, sultry, summer read. Reader, that is exactly what I got. It’s about British Indian actress Whitman (Win) Tagore, who is carving a career for herself in the viper pit that is Hollywood. Being both a woman and a woman of colour means that she has to work twice as hard to get half as far as her male, white, counterparts and so, whenever something happens which threatens to unbalance her carefully curated image, her PR calls in Leo. Leo is the son of a man who makes Logan Roy from Succession look like father of the year. He is one of three children, and his “job” is to curate the art for his father’s hotels. He is also smoking hot and is the perfect balance between playboy and media darling to calm any troubled waters circling around Win.
The book opens with Win hiding out in Saint Tropez, her relationship with a TV host has imploded in a very acrimonious fashion and she is aware that she desperately needs a positive spin. Enter Leo, who has been in Berlin but after a phone call from Marie, Win’s PR, drops everything to fly to Saint Tropez for staged paparazzi walks and accidentally on purpose photographs taken on the beach of he and Win embracing. It has been a while since they have seen one another but they soon fall back into their usual rhythms of deep friendship with a massive dash of sexual tension.
This book sizzles off the page. The relationship between Win and Leo feels authentic, their banter zings, their gazes linger and I felt fully invested in them. They’re both brilliantly written and flashbacks to their past adds depth to their present relationship. It is a richly and deeply written romance full of nuance and tension and I loved it, and them. I was rooting for them to be together which is always a great sign.
This is far more than a romance book though, it is also an exploration of the dark side of fame. Win is constantly battling against prejudices, both overt and covert, and has to portray a certain image all of the time. Any slip can cause her to be dropped from films, meetings with Directors cancelled and the phone to stop ringing. It makes for grim reading and I found it incredibly sad to read. She is constantly at war with an enemy she cannot see which shape-shifts depending upon whatever imagined slight she has failed the public and press with.
Throw in the casual racism which Win is subjected to and it is a wonder she is even able to get out of bed in the morning and face the day. She is made of strong stuff but is written with a great touch of vulnerability, particularly when it comes to Leo and to her mother Pritha who has brought Win up alone since her father died. Their relationship is at times strained and outside forces put additional pressure upon it. It is with Pritha and Leo that we see Win at her most vulnerable and when she is most likeable, even when she does things I didn’t fully agree with.
The View Was Exhausting is well plotted and paced, with a clever narrative switch and a few surprises along the way to boot. It’s super glamorous – yachts, 5 star hotels, parties packed with the glitterati and gorgeous and sexy people leap from the pages. It’s such a great read and one I devoured pretty quickly; it’s full of light and shade, has a lot of heart and is a great summer read with lots of depth. It is a recommended read from me.
Where You Can Buy It
My thanks to Headline for supplying me with a copy of the book via Netgalley.