We are probably more fascinated by celebrity families today than ever before. Just look at the spotlight that is shone, 24/7, on the Kardashians (even if they themselves are often the ones rigging the lights). A celebrity family is a rich dish of fame for us to pick over in our own time and leisure, scrolling through our iPhones for the delicious titbits.
What makes Taylor Jenkins Reid’s story of celebrity culture notably different is that it’s set long before social media was even a twinkle in Silicon Valley’s eye. It is August 1983 and we are in Malibu, southern California’s golden beach community just along the coast from Santa Monica.
It is the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party. The Riva family are a media obsession the world over. Anyone who is anyone is desperate for an invite to the gilded gathering.
Perhaps the would-be party-goers should be careful what they wish for. But everyone is desperate for a glimpse of the famous Riva siblings in their natural habitat. Nina herself, super-surfer, supermodel and super-celebrity… her brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship-level surfer, the other a hugely in-demand photographer… and, of course, the baby of the family: little sister Kit.
What supercharges their global stardom is the fact that their father, Mick Riva, is a legendary singer, famous long before Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit were even born.
The party begins. But along with the champagne, family secrets begin to bubble to the surface. By midnight, events will have corkscrewed wildly out of control and by dawn the Riva mansion will be a burnt-out shell.
A night to remember? Or one to forget? You’ll enjoy deciding which.