Natalie Beach recounts her time as the friend, then gofer, then ghostwriter for Caroline Calloway, an Instagram influencer who (for reasons that eventually become clear) is famous only in retrospect. It's a startling and engaging tale, driven by Beach's recollections of envy toward a person she thought she loved, who did not love her back.
One night, I went to sleep on my air mattress while Caroline stayed at her desk buying homegoods, and when I woke up the next morning, she was still hunched over eBay in her fur coat, having purchased $6,000 worth of furniture. I went to the communal bathroom and sat on the stone floor with my knees to my chest. I told myself that everyone needed furniture, and it wasn't my problem. But Caroline's problems weren't just my problems; they were my whole world, and so while I was a supporting character in the book, I cast myself as the hero in her life. I reached out to Cambridge about therapy, spoke with her mom about her prescription-pill use. When she wore the same lace gown for two and a half days, even sleeping in it, I forced her into the shower. When she arranged a loose pile of sleeping pills on her nightstand before bed, I swept them into my palm when she wasn't looking. I pulled open her desk drawer to find a pen, and empty Adderall capsules skittered around like cockroaches exposed to light. The manuscript was due in six months, and my notes were just lists of funny British foods (Scotch eggs, juicy bits). I began to worry.
It ends, of course, with Beach being conclusively hurt by the relationship, a blow falling in slow-motion from the day they met.
If it was just money and fame she was after, all she had to do was be quiet and let me do the work. She could have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, gone on the tour she always wanted, and recorded the audiobook in that beguiling voice of hers. But she had to be the one to tell her own life story, even if she couldn't. Caroline was caught between who she was and who she believed herself to be, which in the end may have been the most relatable thing about her.
It's The Devil Wears Prada for the Instagram age.