Hello everybody! Today, I’m very excited to be part of the blog tour for Eloise Smith’s debut Sister to a Star, which I read last week and really enjoyed. I have both my review and a guest post from Eloise to share with you, so let’s get onto the post!
This is the story of twin sisters Evie and Tallulah, who are very much at odds given Tallulah’s acting career and Evie subsequently feeling like she is the lesser sister, and not as important to their parents. Things change when Talllulah gets cast in Hollywood movie Z for Zoe, which involves Evie’s passion of swordfighting, and she becomes Tallulah’s stunt double and tensions rise further between the two. Then Tallulah goes missing, and Evie has to put her feelings aside in order to save her sister.
I loved that this has a mystery element to it, because we all know I’m a sucker for a mystery, and there were some twists I didn’t see coming which I also always appreciate. I also really liked getting to learn more about fencing, as it’s something I know very little about and one of my favourite things about books is that they offer the chance to broaden your knowledge and learn things you otherwise wouldn’t.
In terms of characters, I loved Evie so much and it was so great getting to see her become more self-confident and less Tallulah’s shadow, and I also adored her brilliantly supportive new friend Cat and Monsieur, whose history links with Evie’s family and I really enjoyed the way that subplot unfolded as well as the main story of Evie searching for Tallulah. The eccentric Hollywood personalities are used to great effect with several characters here, which was also very enjoyable.
Overall, this book was just so much FUN, and it really reminded me of reading Nancy Drew books and their many spinoffs when I was younger, for some reason- perhaps because one of my favourites took place on a movie set. I’m definitely excited to see what Eloise does next as well; I’m particularly hopeful she gets to release Z for Zoe, given it was originally going to be her debut! I’m glad it still got to appear in her actual debut in some form though.
What being an Olympic fencer taught me By Eloise Smith
Long before I was a children’s author, I was an Olympic fencer. I won three Commonwealth golds and was British Women’s No. 1 from 1997 – 2004. I trained and competed all over the world, from New York to Shanghai to Moscow. It was a strange existence, full of cuts, bruises and broken blades. However, it also taught me amazing lessons about resilience, perseverance and self-belief.
It’s these lessons I hope to pass on in my debut, Sister To A Star. It’s a story of 12-year-old twins who go to Hollywood – one to star in a swashbuckling movie, the other to be her double. Sibling rivalry and a kidnap ensue, but not before the twins have been taught stunt fencing by renowned coach, Monsieur. With an accent “as French as a croissant in a beret” he imparts his wisdom on resilience, perseverance and self-belief. All whilst teaching fencing hanging from ropes, leaping through fire and balancing on high wires.
Here’s what being an Olympic fencer taught me:
During my years of fencing I must have lost thousands of fights. Over my career, I would have been hit millions of times. That’s a million failed attacks. A million bad parries. And and endless stream of bruises. That’s why it was essential I became resilient to those losses. If I got upset at every fight lost, I would have never been able to keep training. I learnt to see victory and defeat as equal partners, both of which were just stepping stones to getting better. That’s why I made Monsieur’s first lesson to the twins in “the great art of defeat”. Because only once you know how to lose, can you learn how to win.
I didn’t start off being an Olympic fencer. I started out being the asthmatic kid who lost every fight in training. I wasn’t the strongest, I wasn’t the fastest, but I worked harder than anyone I knew. And not for a few weeks. For years. Years of competitions So in turn, I made Monsieur a flagbearer for perseverance. He expects his pupils to turn up and train hard day in, day out. He doesn’t tolerate excuses, flakiness or lateness. Not even 29 seconds of lateness, as the twins soon find out. His classes are “not for the faint-hearted” involving a gruelling schedule of running, footwork, target practice, free climbing, parkour, free sparring, fencing lessons. And that’s just the warm up.
3. Self belief
I don’t have a trophy cabinet. I’ve kept a few medals, but most of them I’ve thrown away. Not because I don’t value what fencing gave me. But because what fencing gave me I bring with me every day: self-belief. That’s the real trophy. Over the years, I came to believe in my own ability to win – whether I was against a stronger opponent, tired, injured or 4 – 0 down. It’s that deep self-belief that sport can give you. It can turn the most shy kid into a star. And create a deep self-confidence which no one can take away from you. Knowing you have the inner grit to succeed is a feeling that a kid can take with them their whole life.
That’s why I made Monsieur’s motto: “Just be the best you, don’t worry about everyone else.” It’s the most important message of Sister To A Star. It’s about believing in yourself and not comparing yourself to others (especially not a superstar twin sister). It’s a rallying cry to follow your own path, and be the best you can be, whatever that may be.
Sister To A Star by Eloise Smith is available at Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith and The Book Depository. Happy reading!
Thank you so much for reading! Are you planning to read this book? What are your thoughts on books about acting/set in Hollywood? I’d love to chat to you in the comments!