Fake Like Me – Barbara Bourland #blogtour

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I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour/buddy read today for Fake Like Me written by Barbara Bourland and published by Quercus. Many thanks to Katya Ellis for organising the blog tour/buddy read.

At once a twisted psychological portrait of a woman crumbling under unimaginable pressure and a razor-sharp satire of the contemporary art scene, FAKE LIKE ME is a dark, glamorous, and addictive story of good intentions gone awry, from the critically acclaimed author of I’ll Eat When I’m Dead.

What really happened to Carey Logan?

After a fire decimates her studio, including the seven billboard-size paintings for her next show, a young, no-name painter is left with an impossible task: recreate her art in three months-or ruin her fledgling career.

Homeless and desperate, she flees to an exclusive retreat in upstate New York famous for its outrageous revelries and glamorous artists. And notorious as the place where brilliant young artist Carey Logan-one of her idols-drowned in the lake.

But when she arrives, the retreat is a ghost of its former self. No one shares their work. No parties light up the deck. No one speaks of Carey, though her death haunts the cabins and the black lake, lurking beneath the surface like a shipwreck. As the young painter works obsessively in Carey’s former studio, uncovers strange secrets and starts to fall–hard and fast–for Carey’s mysterious boyfriend, it’s as if she’s taking her place.

But one thought shadows her every move: What really happened to Carey Logan?

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Barbara Bourland is the author of I’ll Eat When I’m Dead, a Refinery29 Best Book of 2017. People called I’ll Eat When I’m Dead “delectable.” Annie Bostrom of Booklist wrote “Bourland fills her debut with terrific characters—Cat especially is wonderfully weird and well dimensioned—and a heaping helping of froth and gloss that will turn readers into industry insiders. Delightfully, playfully skewer[s] the fashion and beauty industries.” Wednesday Martin, bestselling author of Primates of Park Avenue and Untrue, called it “a deft, smart, and hilarious debut.” Kirkus noted that “death by beauty was never so much fun,” and the book was featured in Fortune, Us Weekly, and The New York Post, among others. It was published in North America by Grand Central Publishing, and in Ireland, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa by riverrun. I’ll Eat When I’m Dead is now available in paperback, and is forthcoming in Hebrew from Matar Press in Israel.

Bourland is a former freelance writer and web producer for titles at Condé Nast and Hearst, among others. She lives in Baltimore with her husband and their dogs.

Her second novel, Fake Like Me, is forthcoming in hardback, audiobook and ebook in June 2019 from Grand Central Publishing in North America and from riverrun abroad. Fake Like Me was written with support from The Wassaic Project in Wassaic, NY.

MY REVIEW: I would like to thank Barbara Bourland, Katya Ellis, Quercus and Netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read Fake Like Me as part of the blog tour and buddy read. I can confirm that I chose to read Fake Like Me and all opinions in this review are my own and are completely unbiased.

THIS BOOK IS AMAZEBALLS! It is the epitome of everything dark, deluded and 100% categorically addictive. I could not put it down and had it finished way before the first night of the buddy read took place (I finished it in two days)! ‘Phenomenal’ comes to mind along with every other word that can best describe a story that encompasses a haunting character-driven tale. AND for the record I am spooked to the high heavens for that photo I have of Barbara Bourland up above in the ‘Author’ section is weirdly how I imagined Max’s character to look like … very strange! Also, for the record – again – Pine City in the book is, for me, the resort from Dirty Dancing.

In Fake Like Me we have a no name painter on the verge of a huge career breakthrough. This particular no name painter  is ‘not famous’ in any way whatsoever, however she is our narrator, and boy does she get under your skin. As a reader I felt I became her in every sense. I was moving in her every step, thinking her every thought and feeling her every emotion, and when she becomes close to completing her series of large oil paintings, Rich Ugly Old Maids, based on the seven virtues and the loft she has been living and working in burns down, I think I near cried for her. I just could not imagine giving my life to something soooooooooo much to then go and lose it at the expense of someone else’s incompetence … and to put things further into perspective, she wasn’t actually supposed to be living there. Her management were under the impression the oil paintings were in a secure storage space, resulting in them still expecting the art show to be delivered and on schedule. Imagine, imagine, imagine? What do you do? What would YOU do? Well, there is only one option really isn’t there … recreate each one using the one single salvaged item you have; a notebook containing notes on the process used to create each painting, and THAT is exactly what our no name narrator does.

Whilst all of this is going on with our no name narrator, there’s another important character to consider throughout the entire book; Carey Logan. Now, Carey is the narrator’s hero, and up until the age of 37 which was when Carey killed herself, she was a sculptor and performance artist who became the art industry’s darling and perfectionist – she could do no wrong. She was ‘it’! She was the most famous member of a five-person collective called Pine City who went on to establish a residency of the same name in New York (the same one I mentioned above that reminds me so much of the resort in Dirty Dancing – honestly, it really does, it is scary. Or Twin Peaks!). As our no name narrator secures a place at Pine City and gets to know Carey’s collaborators, the parallels between the two women become worryingly all too similar – spookily similar, it is as though they are one and the same person. There comes a point in the book where as a reader you feel that our no name narrator is actually stepping into Carey’s shoes, however still keeping her own identity – too clever huh? Through this you find that Bourland has a clever style of writing, especially more so further on in Fake Like Me when she brings a twist way beyond satisfying. She is a whirlwind that brings turbulence to your feet, raising you up high and smashing you back down to the ground. She is a real Tour De Force.

Fake Like Me is smart, and truly 100% real. It is gripping from the first word on the first page, not even letting go when the book is finished. It is a literary art novel with a taut psychological thriller feel about it and it comes with a message, a very important message … accept yourself and don’t feel threatened when those negative feelings of ‘I’m not good enough’ arise.

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