Scarlett makes mistakes – over and over again.
She’s not perfect, she has a tricky relationship with her mother and is desperate for people to like her.
She repeatedly goes back to the people that hurt her, no matter how badly.
She moves to London with no plan (of course), but manages to land a job at a modelling agency. Finally, she’s getting her life on track, but the fashion industry is a murkier place than she had imagined.
She changes herself to please others.
Just as she starts to find her place, Scarlett’s life begins to spiral. But at least people know her, she is starting to become someone. And surely it’s better to be someone – even if it’s someone you hate?
I find myself in a mood recently where I like to alter dark thrillers with uplifting fun novels and this bright colourful cover made me think I was holding just that. I can’t say I was exactly right with my assumption.
So I’m afraid to say I’m not a fan. I don’t really like reading novels where people throw themselves into destruction for no good reason and this one had such a negative vibe with nothing to act as a counterweight. You can forgive some people for not seeing clearly or for making mistakes because they just don’t get that some people are bad news but I wanted to slap, shake and yell at Scarlett, the main protagonist, so many times. I know she’s young but surely everyone knows that drugs are bad news and you don’t just jump in that ugly puddle? And do you just trust any guy you meet right away?
The High Moments offers an insider’s look into the world of high fashion and particularly the modelling of haute couture. It is clear where the author found the inspiration but whereas The Devil Wears Prada was focused on poor-girl Andrea Sachs who learns new skills fast and is climbing the upward hill, The High Moments shows you the other side, pretty much how you should not do it. The story is a downward spiral of mistakes, all because Scarlett Willems is so desperate to be liked. At the start of the novel I was rooting for her to go to London and to make it, and it was looking good because she did get an opportunity to be someone but then she just follows around the wrong kind of people. Ugh I know when you are young you don’t always see who you have in front of you but still it was painful to watch and I was sure that Scarlett knew that it was all fake and there were no real friendships to find there. All the clichés you think you know about the fashion industry, the sex, drugs and rock & roll (but especially the first two) are very much true. I used to think it was only the models who did this but it turns out that it includes everyone, even the models’ agents snort the night away. Scarlett is only too happy to join the club.
She’s also very hung up on this bad boy kind of type but from the first time I met him I didn’t hold much hope that he would be a good guy underneath it all, even though it is an often used plot devise in romance novels. But then this is not a romance novel, obviously :-).
I kept on reading mostly because I wanted to see Scarlett take a turn and free herself of the bad influences. I wanted to see the girl she was in the first pages of the novel. She was in so deep that I did wonder how she was going to pull this off. The ending is somewhat satisfying but by that time all my sympathy for her was drained down so much that my heart didn’t really jump up and down like it should have when she was forced to see what she was doing to herself.
The novel isn’t perfect, the characters could have been developed more and Scarlett’s naivety isn’t particularly charming. But if you like to set your teeth into a gritty, unflinching novel about what happens behind the curtains of a modelling agency though, this will leave you wide-eyed.
Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned here though and that is that you have to be your own self and not let others decide who you are.
I received a free proof copy of this novel from the publisher and BATC. This is still my honest opinion.