Much of the fuss surrounding the novel’s publication centred round its inspiration, the life of seventies child star Lena Zavaroni, who died in 1999 as an indirect result of her recurrent anorexia.
I was happy about the way Lena Zavaroni’s life influenced ‘Personality’: if I hadn’t been happy with the connection I could have erased all signs of it from the novel as opposed to making it explicit as I did.
the novel assigns them a hefty measure of suffering, but Maria does not share Lena Zavaroni’s fate. "I knew from the beginning this was not going to be an exercise in faction: Lena’s life inspired me but I did not want to remain within her story all the way,"
I knew early on that Lena's sad end could have nothing to do with the novel. Instead, Maria is offered the chance of salvation in the arms of her lover