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Characterisation and plotting: nul points
on 13 April 2016
Fortunately, I only paid one penny for this tripe as a 'light read'. I'm all for light fiction that is well-written and deftly crafted. This 'novel' is neither. The characters are either one-dimensional or so unappealing one doesn't care what happens to them. Full marks, too, for the casual racism in this insular novel: immigrant domestic help is featured only as a vehicle for making fun of their accents (including 'Antipodeans' for whom the author has a totally tin ear). Uber rich Americans are envied and pilloried in equal measure while one character, a Frenchwoman, seems to be inserted so that the author can write italicised pretend English spoken by a French person ('eez zat yur 'at? type of 'frogbashing'). In between the insularity in that most insular of neighbourhoods, there is no room for the poor, the disabled, the mentally ill or, even, people who are good at conversation or simply pleasant. To make up for the lack of dimension is a litany of name-dropping, branded appliances and clothing and the London obsession with real estate. The author, a columnist of Sunday supplement ephemera married to an old Etonian, features the character, Mimi, a columnist of Sunday supplement ephemera married to an old Etonian. Mimi is smug, unlikeable, self-pitying and avaricious. Clare, a dull garden designer who appears never to do more than a spot of gardening when she feels like it, is simply dull, gossipy and whiney. I read on, hoping for something redemptive or screamingly funny. Not a sausage. Fictional and semi-fictional private worlds can be intriguing, funny, interesting or entertaining. The world of Notting Hell is none of these, simply insular and dull. Nul points.