How to Sleep with a Movie Star, by Kristin Harmel, is a great novel about journalism, celebrities, romance, and jealousy. I first found Kristen’s work when I read her fabulous essay in Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, but her name was misspelled as “Kristin Karmel”, which made it difficult to find her! I finally found her website, and read The Blonde Theory earlier this year and loved it. I couldn’t wait to read more, but the library didn’t have How to Sleep with a Movie Star, so I had to wait for the opportunity to buy it.
Kristin Harmel has written a story about Claire, an entertainment/celebrity journalist (youngest senior editor ever!) at a Cosmo rival woman’s magazine. She’s used magazine-type headlines for each of the chapters, which helps the humor-level of the story. Claire has prided herself as being very professional with everyone, and the benefits of that professionalism are great – she is one of the first people that celebrities are willing to talk to after or during a crisis. Being successful so young has meant, though, that she has people who are jealous of her job and either assume she slept her way there or they want to sabotage her job.
In How to Sleep with a Movie Star, Claire is in a relationship that is going south when she interviews the very handsome and genuinely nice Cole Brannon. Of course, everyone at Mod is envious of her opportunity to interview this eligible bachelor, especially Sidra, a fashion editor who has always been incredibly jealous and snide to Claire. The interview with Cole goes surprisingly well, and Claire has to remind herself that she has a boyfriend (even if he hasn’t been attentive lately). She also has to remind herself about keeping her professional outlook:
I had always vowed that I would keep my emotions completely removed from my job. … No crushes allowed. And here I was making googly-eyes at Hollywood’s Most Eligible Bachelor. What was wrong with me? … After all, it was his job to charm me if he wanted to appear to be a good guy in the media.
Several of random and unforeseeable circumstances lead to Cole and Claire sitting in her apartment rather early in the morning when Sidra stops by to pick something up. Of course, Sidra jumps to conclusions, and nothing Claire or Cole says could dissuade her.
The story continues, pitting Sidra and her co-conspirators against Claire and her morals/professionalism. The story becomes incredibly absorbing, and it’s almost impossible to put down. You’re rooting for Claire, of course, but the nastiness emanating from Sidra’s camp is truly awe-inspiring. Claire is also incredibly inspiring as she perseveres through the problems that ensue from Sidra’s sabotage. While “How to Sleep with a Movie Star” is a very catchy title, the book could also have been called “How to Persevere when it seems like everyone is against you”! I love how Kristin kept her character from being either overwhelmingly depressed or overly optimistic. Claire perseveres through rotten times and career problems, but she does so in a way that feels incredibly real – and it makes those of us persevering through our own mess hope for a fairytale ending!
Within the book, there needs to be celebrities beyond Cole, of course. In many novels about characters mixing with celebrities, either all the celebrities are fake or the author uses all real celebrities except the one involved with the main character. Kristin Harmel did a mix – about 2/3 of the celebrities mentioned in How to Sleep with a Movie Star are real, but the other 1/3 are still very well represented, with discussions about all of them. This mixture of authentic and author-created celebrities makes the story seem all the more real – having Ben Affleck mentioned as another Bostonian like Cole fits, but Kristin also has several invented celebrities talk to Claire as well.
This was a great book, fun to read and very absorbing. A definite thumbs up – go pick up a copy while you wait for the February 2008 release of Kristin’s next book: The Art of French Kissing!