The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine

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Every so often, a book comes along that keeps me burning through pages deep into the early morning, putting off sleep in order to dive deeper into its tangled web. Books like this are few and far between, but none so recent as Alex Brunkhorst’s The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine.

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine follows Milwaukee-born, Harvard-educated Thomas Cleary, a heartbroken twenty-six-year-old journalist at the Los Angeles Times who moved west after a plagiarism incident while at the Wall Street Journal. Thomas was raised poor but, due to tremendous fortune in the form of a work assignment, begins to rub elbows with Hollywood’s elite. Thomas is, essentially, Nick Carraway without the binge drinking and unreliability; Cleary is more earnest and sympathetic, to boot.

Thomas covers the death of a heavyweight Hollywood producer, interviewing his daughter, Lily Goldstein, still striking in her middle age. Lily takes a shine to him and begins inviting Thomas to fundraisers and functions where tickets cost more than his factory-working father back in Wisconsin makes in a year. After an address mix-up one evening, Thomas arrives at the $100 million dollar estate of producer David Duplaine, empty and desolate…save for a mysterious and beautiful blonde twentysomething, playing tennis alone at dark. She introduces herself as Matilda, but asks Thomas to promise to never tell anyone they’ve met. She also seems to not understand everyday colloquialisms and has never heard of “astrology” before Thomas mentions it.

Despite the ramifications—Thomas’ new friends, including Matilda’s father who seems to have hidden her existence, are the Hollywood elite who make or break careers and lives with snaps of fingers—Thomas falls for Matilda Duplaine. He finds himself sneaking back to the estate just to catch a glimpse of her. Thomas begins to suspect there’s something strange about her and that with Matilda lies a secret more topsy-turvy than Mulholland Drive.

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine reads as The Great Gatsby meets Citizen Kane if it were directed by Daphne du Maurier. Brunkhorst, a Los Angeles-based real estate agent by trade, is as adept at creating page turning mystery—written exquisitely—as she is writing descriptive imagery which breathes life into the hills, estates, and streets of Hollywood. Though it’s at times bittersweet, it makes the end result even more enthralling. A shimmering joy to read—a brilliant book about power, control, love and the lack thereof of all three, at times.


Reviewed By:

Author Alex Brunkhorst
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 352 pages
Publisher Mira
Publish Date 2015-Aug-24
ISBN 9780778317531
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue December 2015
Category Popular Fiction
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