Andrew O’Hagan’s Personality teems with a cast of characters so vivid and complex that they seem to encompass within their enthralling stories a portrait of a whole society, its history, its spirit – and its secrets.
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Maria Tambini is a 13-year-old girl with an amazing singing voice. Growing up above her mother’s chip shop on the Scottish island of Bute, living at the centre of her family’s dream of fame, Maria is an extraordinary girl making ready to escape the ordinary life.
We first meet her amidst the faded grandeur of the seaside resort of Rothesay, with the Argyll hills and the Eighties in front of her, and behind her a long shadow: the secret story of her Italian-immigrant family. When Maria wins a national TV talent show she is taken to London and becomes an instant star of what used to be called light entertainment; she sings with Dean Martin and tours America, can fill the London Palladium, yet all the while ‘the girl with the giant voice’ is losing herself in fame and begins a private war against her own body. Maria becomes a living exhibit in the modern drama of celebrity: is it possible that she can be saved by love? Or is she to be consumed by an obsessive culture, by family lies and her number one fan?
The cast of characters is so vivid and complex that they seem to encompass within their enthralling stories a portrait of a whole society, its history and its spirit.
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Issued into the launch list of Faber Modern Classics, publishing in April 2015