Book Reviewed by Timea Barabas
Fiona Graham’s debut novel, The Chancer, is a seemingly fun and easy read. However, there is a lot simmering under the surface. The story explores the fragile relationship between living an authentic life and fully abandoning oneself to a dream. Purchase Here.
Somewhere on a crisp green field in Ireland, Donnie McNamara daydreams about joining the starry Hollywood sky. Despite having few opportunities to explore and hone his acting skills, he is determined to make it. However, his aspirations of becoming a famous actor are ridiculed by family and friends.
Just as Donnie’s hope starts dwindling, an unexpected gift from a dear friend and mentor lights the way. Tired of being a disappointment to his parents, who would have liked their son to follow his farming heritage, Donnie books a ticket to Los Angeles. His chosen path is windy and filled with countless obstacles, many of which are laid by Donnie himself, perhaps as an unconscious act of self-sabotage; or just simple recklessness.
Once in Los Angeles, Donnie’s path becomes intertwined with Abe Nelson, a fallen Hollywood star who gracelessly crashed from stardom. While an unlikely duo, the two seem to complete each other and become better versions of themselves.
Donnie’s quirkiness leaves many perplexed, but it awakens a lost sense of authenticity in a select few. His erratic behavior and uninvited honesty lead to rejection both in his professional and personal life. At the same time, Donnie lives a duplicitous existence that looms over his daydream and fragile happiness.
Fiona Graham constructs an intriguing plot that draws the reader into Donnie’s frantic fight to reach what might just as well be a mirage. On a backdrop of humor, she paints a neon bright picture of the ugly side of beautiful. While fame and popularity have a magnetic allure, these could be inherently dangerous. Falling from a great height can shatter one’s will to live. So, is it even worth trying to climb to the top?
I would encourage anyone to take a chance on Fiona Graham’s debut novel, The Chancer, to find out Donnie’s answer. This fictional story will likely ring true to many, as readers may easily spot a glimpse of themselves in the recklessly foolish dreamer.