The gate clanged I looked up. A woman was coming down the faded pink steps, humming in the white core of the sun. She set down each foot slowly, with a kind of pleasure, her skin melted white, like a candle, and her sunglasses burned. Her figure was a Forties siren s, crammed into a straining white cotton dress. She radiated a kind of joyful, don t-care sensuality- you wanted to know her you wanted to be like her. She gave off a tantalising endurance, too, as if she might put up with things you couldn t imagine. I stood up. Patty Bell? I m Lottie. n Beverly Hills in 1998, British celebrity interviewer Lottie meets Patty Belle, a minor Hollywood actress. In the scorching heat, as she drinks her Virgin Mary and her companion sips champagne, Lottie immediately recognises her magnetic appeal wants to understand the levels of experience she senses in her, even wants to be her. But they are fated not to meet again until many months later back in London, when they become flatmates. Patty is in love with being in love. Strikingly beautiful, she both knows, and at some level is entirely unaware of, the impact she has on men. As she falls for one after another of Lottie's male
Marianne Macdonald read English at New College, Oxford, where she was named Guardian/NUS Student Journalist of the Year. She was the Independent's first trainee and went on to become an interviewer on the Observer's Life magazine. She was runner up for Interviewer of the Year in 1997 and has interviewed Hunter S. Thompson, Sean Penn, Gorbachev, Leonardo DiCaprio and Billy Bob Thornton, among others. She lives in West London.