Source- Review copy/ Hachette Australia
Synopsis: Bella Vendramini knows that any good adventure starts with running away from home, but packing twenty or so cities into just over a year probably went a wee bit overboard.
Add in a life-changing romance (or two), acting in New York, slow dancing with Quentin Tarantino in Berlin, a super-duper upsized fast-food breakdown, meeting her very own Mr Big, celebrity mayhem, a Manhattan society wedding, a donkey in a brothel, driving the Monte Carlo grand prix circuit (drunk), breaking into the Cannes Film Festival (also drunk), digging up dead people, exploding buildings, tropical jungles, parachuting pains, embracing a Parisian love affair (sigh), fleeing a Canadian detention centre, shooting movies, making friends, falling in love on the idyllic Island of Capri (oh yeah) and learning how to find herself where she last left herself (draw breath), and Bella figures she’s finally learnt a thing or two about adventure- and about life.
Review: Naked in Public continues on from Bella’s adventures in Biting the Big Apple (see my review) where she was enrolled in the Strasberg Institute, an elite acting school and fell in love with James, the wealthy, charming alcoholic. With all that behind her Bella plans to make it big in L.A and pursue her dream of acting, only to arrive on the brink of a huge writer’s union strike which put a hold on the T.V and Film industry in Hollywood. So, with no money and her dreams set aside, Bella returns to New York where she re-kindles her romance with wealthy, charming James, now a reformed alcoholic. Bella takes the plunge and throws her commitment phobic tendencies out the window and walks down the aisle with her prince charming.
Although I was happy that Bella and James worked things out I was also a little suspicious (and cynical) about how their relationship would evolve into married life. My suspicions were confirmed when the pressures got to James and his alcoholism got the better of him and he took Bella along on a rollercoaster of passion, anger & destruction. Bella was the textbook domestic violence victim, with hope that the ‘good times’ will return while shutting out and dissociating from the abuse. They were in a cycle of domestic abuse followed by a honeymoon period and Bella would just begin to think she had imagined his dark side only for it to re-emerge again. The need to perfect her acting roles and keep the house ordered are typical behaviours of a woman who is controlled by her partner and feels powerless. When Bella found the strength to walk out, she was left with her self-esteem in tatters and an intense grief that threw her into a deep depression for many months.
Bella’s recklessness, impulsivity and socialite traits kept her powering through life by digging up dead bodies in Germany, romantic flings with French men and forming close friendships. The more Bella tried to run away from her grief the more it would catch up with her and she would become completely overwhelmed by her emotions. With acting by the wayside and her writing career taking off in leaps and bounds her confidence was slowly rebuilding and she felt more positive about life.
Then she met the charming, wealthy Aiden (a.k.a Irish) the Irishman who fell in love with Bella at first sight. They hit it off and Bella developed those all too familiar feelings- love! Again, I was suspicious of this man and I was worried for Bella that she was making another horrible mistake. Aiden was a man who liked to be in control, was ‘overprotective’ of his girlfriends and jealous. Oh oh. I knew straight away this was another recipe for disaster. A controlling man= abusive man. Someone who needs to control and hold power over someone else. Bella became the perfect girlfriend/ housewife in the suburbs, stopped acting, stopped partying, gave up smoking, tried to stop swearing and eventually stopped being who she was.
The shock came when Bella agreed to start a family with Aiden and I know only too well (because of the work I do) that his controlling behaviour would become a hell of a lot worse if she was to become pregnant. Bella’s worse fears about falling in love with another man with a dark side came true and her life purpose was called into question. This wake- up call was like a punch in the face (literally) for Bella and she hightails it out of there with only her passport and credit card in tow.
Naked In Public has a more melancholic mood than Biting the Big Apple but this is understandable given the horrendous situations she endures. It’s not all doom and gloom though, because Bella tells her life-story in a witty, fast-paced and honest way which highlights her resilience and inner strength. There is plenty of laugh out loud moments too. She manages to pick herself back up again and again and find new meaning in life. I was glad in the end that Bella had the insight to see that her relationships had a destructive pattern and I hope that in the third book (which I believe she is currently working on!) she will go on a further journey of self-discovery and find love which is true and healthy. I also hope that she stops running through life and settles on a brisk walk instead.
I highly recommend Bella’s memoirs for anyone who has loved and lost and wants to feel inspired by another’s strength and courage. Bella is an Aussie chic who is trying to figure out who she is and what she wants in life. It’s action packed and you won’t want to put it down for a moment in case you miss something!
Purchase book @
Fishpond (free shipping in Aus)
Check back in tomorrow to read a fun interview with the author, Bella Vendramini plus a huge GIVEAWAY!
Also by Bella Vendramini: