Customer Review

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Haggis and salad? Jaysus!, 17 July 2012
This review is from: The J. M. Barrie Ladies' Swimming Society (Paperback)
I like a good romance now and again and this book has all the right ingredients.
Joey Rubin is a 30-something New York architect. After a broken love affair she is commissioned to renovate Stanway House in the Cotswolds, the manor house that J M Barrie rented from the Earl of Wemyss whose daughter, Lady Asquith, was a friend of his. Stanway's dour Scottish caretaker, Ian McCormack, takes agin her but she is befriended by the J M Barrie Ladies' Swimming Society, they of the title who, mostly in their eighties and with a penchant for swimming in icy lake water, ensure that all's well that ends well. Miss Zitwer also tells us that Barrie wrote Peter Pan at Stanway House but his play for adults `The Little White Bird', later to become Peter Pan, was written in 1902 and several additional drafts were made well before he stayed in the Cotswolds. However, anyone hoping for anything beyond a mention of Barrie in the title will be disappointed.
On the up side it is ably written with some nicely observed characters but there are just too many mistakes to make it a good, absorbing read. Without wishing to disparage, the author has no flair for (or knowledge of) English or Scottish speech rhythms, expressions, behaviour or customs. The Scots do not say, `Jaysus!' that's the Irish. Haggis is always served with `neaps and tatties' and no self-respecting Scot would eat it with salad.She clearly knows nothing about horses either because if Joey had actually gripped her horse hard with her knees she'd have been in the next county by teatime!
Then there are the American expressions not commonly used in England and certainly not by elderly ladies of a certain class. The book is peppered with them: `cosying up', `very savvy', `holed up', `give me a break', `hey there', `cookies, instead of biscuits' and the use of `dearie' made me laugh out loud. `Ma'am' is reserved for royalty, `sure thing' from a waitress in a tea room? I don't think so!, `I guess' `play the short game' and I can't quite decide if `spit spot' which, as we all know, was invented by Disney for Mary Poppins (and which Ian uses incorrectly) is my favourite or `catering to the swells'.
The point is, that by not getting it right, she loses most of her credibility and turns a decent romance into something risible. If only she had adhered to the old maxim `write about what you know'. Americans are not good at writing British dialogue any more than most British writers can convincingly do so the other way round. Disappointing.
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