Today’s team review is from Olga.
Olga blogs here https://olganm.wordpress.com/
Olga has been reading Misadventures In The Screen Trade by Alison Ripley Cubitt
Memoirs and biographies are not among my go-to genres when it comes to books, although I do read some, especially if I am interested in the protagonist, the subject matter, or they come highly recommended. In this case, I didn’t know the author beforehand, but the subject matter is one I’ve always been interested in (I think most of us are intrigued by what goes on behind the cameras and what the development and production process of our favourite TV series and movies entails), and some of the bloggers I follow had reviewed this book favourably. So, two out of three won the day. And I am pleased it was so.
The author’s experience in screenwriting comes through clearly in this book. The narrative follows a chronological order and it is written in the first-person, as is typical in memoirs, but the author picks up some events and moments and focuses on those, writing about them in the present tense, while providing enough information to allow us to join the dots and get an idea of what her life and experiences (her professional experience in particular) have been like. We “see” her being bowled over by watching her first Disney movie (even though it was dubbed into a language she didn’t understand a word of); we suffer with her through a tough time in Florence (when due to a strike of the banks she cannot access her money); we follow her from one dead-end job to the next, and from one country and city to another. We see her apply for jobs (with more or less success); study; write; gain some fascinating experience in British TV (including a trip to film a special of the Big Breakfast in Los Angeles); get what sounds like her dream job (Disney, here I come!); and share in her disappointment with big corporations and toxic work environments. All of this in short chapters, which keep up the pace and move the story along without ever getting repetitive or tiresome.
Bad things happen as well, and not only in her professional life, but Alison is nothing if not resilient, and she does not spend too long dwelling on the negatives, especially the personal ones. She briefly mentions some events which it is easy to realise had a profound impact on her, but she sticks to the title. Although she might, occasionally, reflect upon the price she had to pay for her chosen vocation and lifestyle (travelling and commuting all the time, spending long periods away from her home and her husband, not being able to see some projects through…), she never blames anybody else, accepts her situation and circumstances, and makes the best out of every moment, with determination and a wry sense of humour.
This is not a tale full of gossip and scandal, neither personal nor of any of the famous people she has come across. Not that there are no names you might recognise here, but she does talk about her experience working with them and never reveals anything beyond that. Of course, all this does not mean she likes everybody she comes across, and she does refer to people and practices that make one feel stressed on her behalf, but she is pretty measured and witty when it comes to expressing her negative feelings. There are moments of joy, discovery, hope, but also of disappointment and betrayal. Ultimately, this is a story of such a varied and dynamic life that most readers are bound to find some experience they can identify with and will recognise some of the emotions and the thoughts the protagonist shares with us. And, it ends up on a positive and creative note, so it covers all bases.
In sum, this is a highly entertaining memoir that shows how the road to “success” (self-defined success, the only one that truly matters) is hardly ever straightforward and without obstacles. It will inspire those who perhaps didn’t choose a standard career path, and entertain and inform anybody eager to know more about the screen trade and the media. I also recommend it to all readers who enjoy a well-written book full of adventures, especially those who appreciate stories and memoirs about indomitable women.
A young woman in a man’s world takes on the media industry. Can she hit the heights of her dreams, or will she fall flat on her face?
Sydney 1981 Alison Ripley Cubitt couldn’t wait to make her mark. Having escaped her fractured New Zealand family only to end up dying of boredom behind a Mad-Men-era reception desk, she was determined to shatter the media’s glass ceiling. Thrilled to score an unpaid television internship in London, she still needed to survive alone…
Climbing her way up the career ladder, only to fall down again, Alison’s life-changing moment finally arrived when she landed her dream job at Disney. But after a documentary presentation to the masters of animation ended in disaster, the driven young woman refused to let her march to the top miss out on a spectacular finale.
In this entertaining true tale of the reality of working in the cutthroat world of show business, Alison shares the highs-and-lows of chasing bold goals. Navigating a patriarchial industry with wit and determination, her straight-to-the-point style will have you laughing out loud, and in awe of her courage.
Misadventures in the Screen Trade is a dazzling peek into one woman’s climb from rural New Zealand to Tinseltown. If you like fiery heroines, self-deprecating humour, and insightful tales from backstage, then you’ll love this spirited memoir.