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I really wanted to like this - but I couldn't!
on 22 February 2011
I had such high hopes for this debut novel from the utterly enchanting and entertaining Fern. I think she is fabulous on the telly and the radio and I really wanted to like this book but I just found it so dilute and lacking in substance that once finished, I actually felt quite cross!
The book centres on the life of Christie, a supposed struggling single mum / tv presenter / daughter / sister / friend / lover / amateur detective fan. None of those mantles are fully developed and I found her fairly one dimensional and vague. I certainly felt no empathy towards her, and found that I couldn't even picture her clearly.
Christie's life is accesorised by her mother, her sister, her 2 children, her new lover, her agent, her agents assistant, her work colleagues, her mother's boyfriend, her doctor, her daughter's headteacher, her driver, her rival, and in flashback, her dead husband. Most are stereotypical and add plot detail but little else. I feel there are too many 'others' in the book - some of which are irrelevant and their stories left hanging. I felt especially the daughter's story could have been more fully developed and some kind of conclusion given.
The book is a mixture of gushing and somewhat cliched prose (antique pine / conservatory / tea and wine / fashion descriptions throughout), stilted conversation between underdeveloped characters, and a protracted middle section which dragged for me. The ending was quick, but unsatisfying. Nothing really unsurprising, and a little trite to be honest - but after almost 400 pages I was glad to finish!
(Another irritation was the shockingly blatant product placement within the book - it describes a fictional Prime Minister, a fictional TV station and programme, a fictional newspaper and magazines, yet high end consumer goods and restaraunts are mentioned by name more than once and as such are unnecessary details).
A confused piece of lightweight chick-lit - I'm disappointed. Sorry Fern.