In SYCOPHANTS by Linda Gould, there’s no limit to what dreams may take shape, coming to fruition by hook or by crook via a cast of characters who refuse to remain realistically earthbound despite an impressive roster of personal insecurities and flaws. Imogene Wittier represents the typical introverted country mouse aiming to make it in the Big City after graduation, until the gritty, mundane world at the bottom of the New York publishing career ladder wears her down, eventually dashing those aspirations. Then a job offer from Glendary College roommate Sara Murphy Guthrie miraculously ricochets Imogene into trying to carve a niche for herself in the complex world of big budget feature films. On the surface the two women are dissimilar, with Sara having already successfully parlayed her post-college choices into a life that includes Hollywood contacts, notoriety, and a pro-football athlete for a husband. Most intriguing are the ins-and-outs of watching a film trying to get made amidst copious amounts of interpersonal chaos and sabotage instigated by the players involved, even peripheral ones. Characters have slept with each other’s rock star brothers, boyfriends, etc. and many would prefer to be treated as a queen bee in their own right rather than as anyone’s employee–a feeling many a creative newbie may find relatable.
Unfortunately, on the whole the characters populating the ever-shifting artistic landscape don’t tangibly leap off the page as real flesh-and-blood human beings, despite the attention the author paid to outlining their specific ambitions and flaws. For example, readers are told Imogene is originally a country girl, but she does not feel like one. The sights, smells, and visceral memories that should be palpably present from this crucial time that she’s desperate to escape never fully to life. Additionally, it is stated that Imogene, along with a good many of the other characters, spent their collegiate years at a small-town campus in the Appalachian foothills. But whatever was so unique about this environment that it apparently cast a long-lasting spell upon the determined Imogene, infamous Sara, manipulative Emily, successful, semi-retired musician Jake, etc., causing them individuals to remain intricately linked to each other’s lives–along with sometimes in each other’s employ well into adulthood–remains a mystery. Also noticeably absent is an Author Bio.
The complex, drama-filled SYCOPHANTS by Linda Gould finds a mishmash of ambitious twenty-something go-getters trying to make it in the world of 1980s film; a time when movie-making operated somewhat differently — though perhaps no less chaotically or ruthlessly — than it does today.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader