Maia Steele

Don’t Believe the Hype by Natalie Lewis hit the shelves in April of 2023, her first novel after several decades making a successful name for herself in the fashion PR industry. The novel follows the career and personal life of Frankie Marks, who is employed at GGC Agency, a highly respected and successful fashion PR company in London. Frankie is completely underqualified for the job, and her boyfriend, parents, and friends are initially shocked and unsupportive of this career move. The narrative observes Frankie’s rise in the industry, at the consequence of her personal life, particularly her relationship with James, her long-term boyfriend.  

Anyone who is looking for a relatable, honest, and comforting ‘chick lit’ read should definitely pick up Lewis’ latest. The novel does a great job at drawing on the aesthetics and overall vibe of an early 2000s rom-com and modernising this classic narrative for a contemporary audience. I found Don’t Believe the Hype to be a very light read, a great way of escaping the chaos of everyday life by jumping into the circus that is Frankie Mark’s life.  

The novel was full of hilarious moments which I must admit, even though I am not a Fashion PR, I could relate to. The main character, Frankie, stays true to being a twenty-something, fresh out of university, and trying to find her place in the career world whilst navigating her long-term relationship and friendships. I was a huge fan of the use of the first-person narrative; it felt like I knew Frankie personally and the accompanying constant use of a stream of consciousness developed a definite sense of friendship between Frankie and the reader.  

The entire novel felt like I was reading Frankie’s diary entries—with the storytelling being so genuine and honest. This was likely due to Natalie Lewis’ own experience working in PR, which came through in the voice. I felt the formation of many different types of characters in this novel was done very well, showing a diversity of PR colleagues as well as Frankie’s boyfriend, James and best friend, Charlotte. These characters, like Frankie, felt authentic and real. At many moments I was rooting for each and every one of them, even the glamorous celebrity Melissa. I also enjoyed the addition of the rival Fashion PR firm—‘Five Stars’, which allowed for a twist at the end.  

Whilst it was a highly enjoyable read, I did see some room for improvement such as the length of the book. I found that it could have been shortened with some chapters feeling unnecessary and waffly with details that were not necessarily relevant. In relation to these excessive details, I also felt the story had a degree of predictability. I see no harm in a narrative that is not entirely original and unique, but I did feel there were several plot points that were cliché.  

For example, its obvious resemblance to the popular 2003 Novel and 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada. Now, I am aware of the intention to be inspired by this text, but personally I think it was a little too similar. The head of the company Georgina had the same glamour and intensity of Miranda and Frankie reminded me of Andrea, a newly college graduate who is underqualified for the fashion world.  

As for the ending of the novel, without giving too much away I was slightly underwhelmed. I expected a more powerful ending, hoping that Frankie would take control over her life that by the end of the book was crashing down on her. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the irony and humour of the conclusion.  

After hearing the news that this book is intended to be made into a series, I have to say I can’t wait! I believe this story will translate well on screen, and I am sure that the Frankie in this series will capture the hearts of many. I hope that the screened version will bring life to these dynamic characters in a way that will enhance the original traits of the characters in the book.  

I give it 3/5 Pelicans.

By Pelican Magazine

Pelican is one of the oldest student publications in Australia and the only independent paper at UWA. If you enjoy writing, then Pelican is the place for you! We print six themed issues a year, and run a stream of online content.

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