From Publishers Weekly
This story of romance between a young Dutch actress and a slightly fictionalized Federico Fellini flounders on poor plotting and overwrought prose. After being reared by a demanding father, Gala and an ambiguous male companion named Maxim travel to Rome in the 1970s to find their fortune as movie stars. There, the beautiful and epileptic Gala eventually attracts the ardor of Fellini stand-in Snaporaz. Told partially in the third-person and partially as Snaporaz's elegiac reminiscences, this potentially interesting story is hampered by clumsy prose; Snaporaz's frequent pronouncements often come off as banal or pretentious (I gather strange butterflies. My white is made up of so many colors). Plot momentum might have made such stylistic lapses easier to overlook, but Japin chooses to let his aspiring actors simmer in Italy with little to do for so long that Snaporaz's and Gala's eventual romance feels anticlimactic and belated. Though Japin, author of the widely praised In Lucia's Eyes
, brings together a number of promising elements, this book comes up short. (Feb.)
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A Dutch actor and actress travel to 1970s Rome in hopes of finding their big break in this latest offering from Dutch novelist Japin (In Lucia’s Eyes, 2007). Gala and Maxim have been companions for years; each is overjoyed when the other finds work. But when Gala comes under the spell of the celebrated Italian director Snaporaz (a thinly disguised Fellini), Maxim is besieged by worry. Beautiful Gala is an epileptic, and her seizures seem to occur with greater frequency in times of emotional distress. Gala pins all her hopes on a role in Snaporaz’s latest movie, but the waiting game she must play after their initial meeting nearly drives her mad. Meanwhile, she earns money as a female escort, while Maxim lands a solid film role. Snaporaz’s lust for Gala is undeniable, and the fling between them is both inevitable—and anticlimactic. Based on a true story, Japin’s novel is overlong, and the characters are lackluster. Still, there are some vivid depictions of life in Rome, and the Fellini connection may interest cinema buffs. --Allison Block