Adele Parks' Playing Away
is founded on that well-worn adage: the grass is always greener. Connie and Luke have been married a year and they're both ecstatically happy. Or are they? The reader quickly realises that Connie isn't short for Constancy. Away on a business trip, her loins irrepressibly draw her to the devilishly attractive John Harding and she rushes headlong into a heated affair. Connie soon becomes Con-Artist as she deceives her decent but dull husband. While her lover woos her with evenings at out-of-the-way, grubby pubs and with late-night calls and faxes, after pub closing-time, declaring his longing for her, Connie begins to confuse lust with fate and deludes herself he could be the one.
In Playing Away, the author has entered dangerous, forbidden territory by writing from the perspective of the adulteress--a traditionally unsympathetic character. However, Adele Parks has succeeded in making the reader despise the character's actions, without rejecting Connie, who is attractive, candid and exhilarating. So many novels these days focus on finding Mr Right, it is refreshing to come across one that looks beyond the wedding and proceeds to undermine the traditional stereotype--only men are tempted to stray. A scorching, subversive debut novel, this novel has all the ingredients of a successful modern romance but with a healthy dose of reality.
Adele Parks joins the new elite of twenty-/thirtysomething female authors who are sustaining the spirit of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary. By deepening the genre's significance and adding a sting to the tail, they are finding innovative ways to achieve more resonance with today's women. Nicola Perry
"Marie Claire" A light comic novel....This month's Pick of the Paperbacks (April 2000).