Fiction (Romance) Andrew O'Hagan Personality

ISBN 13: 9780571217755

Personality

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9780571217755: Personality

Andrew O'Hagan's second novel, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, is a powerful tale about society, celebrity and self-destruction.Maria Tambini is a thirteen-year-old girl with a great singing voice. Growing up on a small Scottish island, she is ready for the big time and keen to escape her ordinary life. When she wins a national TV talent show, she becomes an instant star, yet all the time 'the girl with the giant voice' is losing herself in fame and in a private battle with her own body. Can Maria be saved by love or is she destined to be consumed by celebrity, by family secrets, and by her number-one fan?'Enormously impressive, frequently curious and consistently ambitious.' Sunday Times'What he manages brilliantly is allowing us only restricted access to Maria's mind, so that the reader is put in something like the same relation to her as the sharkish agents and managers who suck her dry.' Guardian'Such command, such grace, and such compassion.' New York Review of Books

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Andrew O'Hagan's Personality opens on Scotland's Isle of Bute with three generations of the Tambini family struggling for success in their adopted home. The blanket of charm that envelops the Tambini's gradually discloses many secrets: forgotten children, torrid affairs, closeted homosexuality, and suppressed ethnic tension. Thirteen-year-old singer Maria Tambini seems to be everybody's antidote to past failures. After she leaves Bute for and audition with the television show Opportunity Knocks in London, she rapidly achieves both fame and fortune buoyed by a voice "like Barbara Streisand['s]" and charisma beyond her years. Friends and family mourn her loss to stardom while taking solace that someone has escaped Bute and achieved success as they imagine it must be on television.

But Maria's abrupt transformation into a personality leads to obsession with body image, clothes, hairstyles, and make-up; she sees herself as only an object for other people's entertainment: "Her body was apart from her. The person with thoughts was different from the person with arms and legs, a stomach and a face." For Maria, a life of surfaces, a life of pleasing, means self-annihilation. As her self fades into the image that others project on her, her body literally withers away.

O'Hagan experiments with virtually every narrative form in Personality (even including an epistolary chapter). Not all of these attempts work, and the story--driven by its strong characters and not plot--occasionally bogs down in details unnecessary to the development of either. But even in these rare lapses O'Hagan, whose previous work has been short-listed for the Booker Prize, carries his reader through his finesse with Scottish dialect and the wit of his rich supporting characters. --Patrick O'Kelley

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Published in hardcover by Harcourt, 2003, 0-15-101000-5

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