Publication Date: November 19, 2012
In Arabelle’s Shadows by Fleur Gaskin, Arabelle is a young model from New Zealand living in Thailand and at war with her shadows. Her life may look glamorous from the outside, but inside she’s falling apart.
The author provided me with a copy of this book for review.
Arabelle’s Shadows is written in the style of a diary and brings us to the heart of an insecure young model. She fights failure, depression and the sense of really truly wanting someone to approve and love her. Her relationship with her father is summed up in a dinner when she returns to New Zealand. He tells her, he’s proud of her and her heart swells until she realizes that he’s drunk. Suddenly, her relationships within the novel are put into perspective. This is a woman who needs a hug from someone who means that hug just for her.
Arabelle’s story isn’t chronologically written, but the switches between years are segregated by chapter and are therefore easy to follow. Each line follows a personal disappointment — a time when Arrabelle feels she’s failed and the shadows creep in. Based on Gaskin’s own life, the story does have a very personal feel. You are reading the often harsh and sometimes destructive life of a model first hand. It’s that sort of life that America’s Next Top Model hints at but struggles to convey with bubbly and adoring Tyra at the helm. A model must not be too curvy, and they must be interesting. Arabelle, who is more of an editorial model and can’t pull off the big money commercial jobs, is given diet pills by a photographer when she’s deemed too fat.
Arabelle’s story is in the spirit of such classics as “Bright Lights, Big City.” It’s well written and well told from an insider’s view looking back. There’s a feeling of other-worldliness in the setting which is very well described. Arabelle is growing before our eyes and we can’t help but cheer for her.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the very cool cover of this novel. In the case of Gaskin’s raw tale, the cover is a perfect reflection of what readers will find inside.
If you like coming-of-age, human struggle and generally raw stories that look into a field where most people have a short shelf life, I think you’d have a hard time finding a better example than Arabelle’s Shadows.
Read an excerpt and buy Arabelle’s Shadows by Fleur Gaskin on