The Chrysanthemum Palace by Bruce Wagner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Tragedy of Having Gods as Parents: A Review of The Chrysanthemum Palace by Bruce Wagner
The main reason I got this book was because one of the main characters is called Clea. Clea is the title of one of the Alexandria Quartet books by Lawrence Durrell (I was named after one of them). I also named my daughter Clea. I was hoping that the Alexandria Quartet might be mentioned somewhere in the book. I mean, Clea is a very rare name. There might be a big chance that the author would refer to it somewhere in his book. I was not disappointed. If only for that, I was satisfied.
It took me more than a few months to start reading the book and it took me a month and a half to finish this book. It was my bathroom reading fare. The story was a bit dragging. Three spoiled brats do not not make very attractive characters. However, I could identify. After all, I grew up in the shadow of a very flamboyant beauty queen mother. I know the insecurities that come with very accomplished/ very beautiful parents.
The novel was full of pathos. However, coming from a third world country put the lives of Bertie, Thad, and Clea in perspective. How could these drug-addicted children of celebrities find despair when they are all well-fed and presented with lots of opportunities despite being has-beens? In that sense, I felt alienated. I did understand that the story revolved around the tragedy of being the progeny of gods and goddesses.
What did I enjoy? I loved the parts when Starwatch became part of the plot. It was a reference to Star Trek, of course. And that's why it was great. The story within the story was equally enthralling (or, in fact, more enthralling). I also liked the character, Miriam (a. k. a. Meerkat), Thad's agent and Bertie's lover. She seems to have been one of the most levelheaded of their bunch.
Overall, this is a reflective and somewhat depressing read. It has entertaining peeks into the glitzy Hollywood life. But don't be fooled. This book is a tragedy. Expect grandiose soliloquies and unforgiving parents who drive their children to suicide.
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