This book review is long overdue. I was sent this book months ago, but it got kind of lost amidst the sea of books I have to read. But when I finally started it I was hooked and tried to fit in time to read whenever I could. Wildchilds by Eugenia Melian follows Iris, a former model, as she copes with the death of her ex-boyfriend and father of her teenage daughter and all the memories his death brings. She is left his estate which includes his collection of work – Gus, her ex, was a famed photographer – but she must travel back to Paris to find and recover it all. She hasn’t been back to Paris since she abruptly left 16 years ago nor has she seen Gus since then and now he is gone.
Not only does Iris have to face the past she ran away from and has avoided thinking about all these years, but she must also face an enemy from her past to recover the photographs and Gus’ legacy before he does.
I found the novel really interesting especially since I am so in to fashion, pop culture, and the culture of “celebrity”. It’s an interesting look in to the dark side of that sort of life and how there is a down side and wickedness to the glamorous lifestyle that seems to be portrayed. The author, Eugenia Melian, has a background as a model and agent so although Wildchilds is fiction I’m sure she drew upon experiences or things she has seen/heard over the years. Models who look so put together, beautiful, carefree, and glamorous on the page (or on social media these days) may be taken advantage of behind the scenes. High on drugs to stay thin or awake enough to work nonstop shooting for campaigns, walking in runway shows, being seen at all the parties that you need to be seen at to keep your career. Being blackmailed for sexual favors in exchange for not being blacklisted by fashion houses and magazines. I hope that this isn’t extremely prevalent today, but you never know and I’m sure some of this does still go on – at least to some extent.
When talking about some secret photos Iris comes across of parties from back in the day when she was modeling she describes all the people in the photos. Rich and famous people and all the models and photographers partying, drunk, high, doing things that they won’t remember. “Good and bad people having fun, and also not. Working, networking, selling, buying, exploiting, guiding, ignoring, destroying, The hunters and the hunted. The glitter ball of success and power always at arm’s reach, at the next party, at the next deal. A promise, a word, an entente, a shake of hands, a wink, contacts exchanged, and some temporary relief.”
Anyway, I really enjoyed the book – except for the ending. It’s not that it’s a bad ending, it’s just that I found it to be anticlimactic. During most of the novel Iris is learning to deal with her unresolved feelings of hurt, anger, heartbreak, etc. and uncovering truths or memories that she had forgotten. Without giving too much away, she needs to find the strength to really confront the past and bring down her enemies rather than sweep it under the rug like she’s done for 16 years. She owes it to herself and her daughter, Lou. Things happen to help her along (again, I don’t want to spoil the book for you) but the ending just seemed unsatisfying to me. I think there’s emotional closure to an extent, but I want to see more concrete consequences and justice done. But that’s just me.
I recommend this book especially if you’re in to fashion and reading about the behind the scenes, scandalous world of it.
*This book was sent to me complimentary, but all opinions are my own. The link in here is also an affiliate link.*