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A Secret Life [Hardcover]

Esther Rantzen
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 11.30 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 May 2003
The gripping story of woman forced to fight for the truth in a competitive world; When Suzannah Piper, TV star and media personality, is killed in a tragic car accident, many publicly grieve but few genuinely mourn. For Suzannah chose to live her life in the spotlight, and real friends are scarce in the glittering but shallow celebrity world. But investigative journalist Lucy Strong, one of the few people who knew the real Suzannah, mourns her. When, a decade ago, Lucy arrived in London a naive, insecure young girl in search of a TV career, it was Suzannah who saw her intelligence and nurtured it. It was Suzannah who taught her to play the media game. And it was Suzannah who helped Lucy to achieve her dream. Now, after her death, Lucy suddenly gets her chance to repay Suzannah, for crucial things about the night of her death don't add up. But as Lucy starts to discover the secret life that Suzannah kept from even her, she realises that Suzannah was playing a dangerous game. And soon her own life is under threat...

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Century; First Edition edition (1 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712617450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712617451
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,731,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

It's inevitable that the debut novel by such a high-profile television personality as Esther Rantzen will create something of a stir. But can her talents as a TV presenter and campaigner translate into the field of the novel? Actually, A Secret Life is successful precisely because Rantzen has been canny enough to set her book in the arena she knows best: the world of TV celebrity, in which relationships are tested by the stringent demands (emotional and otherwise) that are made on the denizens of this superficial milieu.

Journalist Lucy Strong is Rantzen’s resourceful and persistent protagonist. She knew Suzannah Piper, a media and TV star who has been killed in a car accident, and while Suzannah appeared to have many acquaintances and few friends, there is much interest in the real life she led away from the public gaze. Lucy is keen to find out the truth about her friend, and begins to dig beneath the surface of her death. She quickly finds that there are several anomalies in the star's death: Suzannah was leading a dark secret life, and dealing with some dangerous people. Before long, Lucy begins to realise that she is prying open a can of worms, with her own life under threat.

What makes A Secret Life such compelling reading is the author’s careful revelation of the layers of truth that lie beneath a carefully preserved surface--the agenda of Esther Rantzen's own TV programmes, in fact. The detail here has the ring of truth, with Lucy a strongly drawn heroine. But can Rantzen make such a strong showing as a writer when she moves into something other than her own profession? The question is academic: this book shows that intimate background knowledge of a particular world can yield some powerful results. --Barry Forshaw


An entertaining glimpse into the cut throat world of television journalism. --The Times<br /><br />A pacy debut novel a glamorous whodunnit set in the cut throat world of daytime tv. --womens own

A pacy debut novel a glamorous whodunnit set in the cut throat world of daytime tv. --womens own --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Esther!! 6 Oct 2004
Well, I thought it was an excellent read!! Whilst reading the book, I had no idea myself on what career I wanted and thanks to reading this book, it has given me inspiration of what I want to be and I now have a job working for a National Television Show and I love it. Ms Rantzen, gives the reader an excellent insight to the world of television, combined with a crime thrilling story. A defo good read!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - a terrific read 2 Jan 2004
It was with some trepidation that I started to read A Secret Life. I obviously knew of the author and admire a lot of her work but a thriller writer?? I wasn't convinced. But.......
This is a magnificant debut novel. From the first page I was gripped.
Esther has the ability to make you care about the people she writes about and want to know more. In Lucy Strong she has created a real women, someone you can identify with. I have never been in a TV studio and yet after reading the novel feel that I have had a fair insight into that world with the contact always being relevant to the storyline. The manner in which she draws out the differnt aspects of Susannah's past is like peeling an onion. Each layer brings out more twists. The sub-plot of abuse is, as would be expected of Child Lines founder, handled extremely well with the horror obvious without being mauled over.
I am so glad that Ms Rantzen wasn't tempted to add "glitz and glamour dirt and insinuation" as some other Authors from a celebrty background have done in the past.
Well done Ms Rantzen. I for one cannot wait to read your next book....
I, who know nothing, predict a massive new author on our shelves..................Excellent an extremely talented lady
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor. 4 July 2004
By Rich
This book is billed as a thriller and a whodunit and fails miserably on both counts.
There is no mystery as to what happened to Suzannah Piper, the heroine doesn't even bother to investigate what went on and only blindly discovers what happened in the last 100 pages, - no detective work - nothing.
As a thriller there is no suspense, no twists - nothing.
The characters are all fairly two dimensional, often a requisite of whodunnits so they can be used as suspects except the author doesn't have any suspects here. All you are left with are cardboard cutouts.
The main character Lucy Strong is self-obsessed and has no empathy with any of the other characters, only considers her own feelings. She also moans about being a 'celebrity' but then happily uses her 'celebrity' to further her own career. There is real hypocrisy here which only makes the heroine extremely un-sympathetic.
The title is also rubbish, what exactly was Susannah Piper's Secret Life. All Lucy discovers is that some people didn't like her as she slept around and could be a tough boss. This is NOTHING that the heroine didn't already know at the beginning of the book.
To top it all this isn't even well written. Scenes run into one another. it's not even clear over what kind of timeframe the book takes place, or even at times what day it's supposed to be. Sloppy. Where was the editor in all this?
As for being an expose of the TV industry, well it didn't tell me anything I couldn't have gleaned from a tabloid newspaper.
Honestly this is bad. A really blatant case of publisher signing a famous name in the hope of selling some books.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stick to your day job. 5 Aug 2004
I got about half way through the book and had to close it and put it down. I think it's safe to say that Esther Rantzen should give up writing and return to her day job. A writer she ain't. The story is so long winded and goes around the houses at an incredibly slow pace.
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