Like the Cinderella story of lore, Erica Sparks is plucked from a local news affiliate (in Vermont if memory serves) and given a front and center seat on the latest 24 hour news network established by a Mark Zuckenberg type, but much darker, zillionaire who wants to rule the world – something that the real Zuckenberg may or may not want to do. She is a reporter with a past who wants to move on with her life thus not squander her second chance to make it to the big time. If her life as the daughter of stereotypical bad parents taught her anything it is that the world owes you nothing so you got to have gumption. Gumption leads Sparks to finagle an interview with the Duchess of Cambridge on her first day on the job. From a news perspective it is lucky that right before the luncheon for the Duchess begins there is a major accident nearby involving the Staten Island Ferry which kills several people. Sparks gets her first taste of national fame for being the first reporter with boots on the ground.
The Newsmakers by Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart is an average novel; not horrendous in plot but not memorable past a week after reading. Despite Sparks being Ivy League educated she is slow in picking up that major news breaking stories do not happen for one reporter within a short amount of time. Listen, if a presidential candidate dies, with the potential to be the first woman president no less, during your “exclusive interview” it is doubtful that a flock of former first ladies would think it’s a grand idea for them to participate in a View like chat fest with you.
The storyline felt twenty-five years out of date in places. For instance there is the classic glamourous female reporter/news anchor pitted against the rising glamourous female reporter/news anchor scenario. It is almost as if they are the only two women who are the on-air talent of a 24-hour news network. Are they both white women who benefit from the male gaze? Do you have to ask? Granted, I liked that Sparks was flawed but the novel would have benefitted more if the character had a little more insight to the social economic background from which she emerged.
Since I read an advanced copy, I feel the need to point out that having Sparks observe on page 95, “I grew up with Maine winters. I can handle the heat.” was confusing. Using the term “heat” metaphorically seems like something you would compare to growing up in Florida or summering in New Orleans, you know, places that are continuously hot and therefore heat is something that must be dealt with. I imagine Maine in winter is a place where heat is desired and comes at a premium and as such not a commodity that is ever too much to handle.
I recommend The Newsmakers with trepidation. It is an okay story but there are better novels currently in release. The ending left open the possibility of a sequel and if one comes about I hope Sparks becomes retains her gumption but shows more compassionate about her background and is more interesting overall.