I was recently embarrassed during a conversation with a friend when I hadnt heard of one of Fay Weldons best-known books. To be honest, all Ive ever known about Fay Weldon is that she wrote The Life and Loves of a She-Devil and apart from the fact it was televised at some stage, Ive no idea what its about. So I decided it was time to put this to rights and picked up a copy of this book from my local library it caught my eye because of the bright pink and orange cover. Frankly, I dont know if this is typical of Fay Weldons work, but if it is, I dont think Ill bother with any more of her novels.
Grace McNab is in her fifties and has recently been released from prison after an attempt to run down her ex-husbands new wife, Doris Dubois. Doris is a thirty-something career woman with her own TV show. Beautiful and rich, she has everything she wants .but is still not satisfied with life. Until her husband, Barley Salt, has bought her an exact copy of an exclusive Bulgari necklace that a society lady owns, she will not be able to rest.
Sad, fading Grace thinks her life is over. Everyone feels sorry for her, yet now she is a nobody, she rarely gets invited to the society events she once was so much part of. Then she meets the much younger Walter Wells, artist extraordinaire, who falls in love with Grace at first sight. They move in together and settle down into domestic bliss. But Doris has her eye on Walter and Barley begins to see a different side to his ex-wife. Will Doris get her own way and leave Barley to his ex-wife?
I liked Grace very much; without her, I probably wouldnt have waded my way through this largely pointless novel. A typical middle-aged woman pushed into the sidelines when her husband realises that he needs a younger, more dynamic wife to improve his standing in society. Conscious of her fading looks, she thinks her life is over. I found her a very believable character; more than can be said for the rest of them.
Doris Dubois is a dreadful character, something along the lines of Tanya from Footballers Wives. She has no feelings, expects everyone to fall in line with her, and gets rid of them when they dont do as they ask or she has no further use for them. She would fit in to a Jilly Cooper novel very well; somehow she seemed a bit incongruous in this novel. I think I just wasnt expecting a character like this from an author that as far as I am aware is very respected in the literary field.
None of the other characters really stood out. Barley is a pathetic man trying to hold on to his virility and success by marrying a younger, well-connected woman. Walter Wells is a bit of a non-entity; a perfectly nice man who adds nothing to the novel. Ross, Barleys driver, is perhaps the next most interesting character to Grace; he can see straight through Doris duplicity and stays loyal to Grace. All in all though, I was disappointed by the cast of characters. Their rich and fashionable lives are nothing short of tedious.
Unfortunately, my criticism of this book doesnt stop at the characters. The story, although perfectly readable and amusing in parts, just didnt grab me. The book seemed to have no sense of identity; it wasnt quite chick-lit, nor was it a comedy or a drama there was even a bit of the supernatural thrown in, but it wasnt a fantasy or thriller either. Come to that, it didnt really seem to have all that much of a point. Described by The Times as a glorious romp of love, lust, greed and power, it just made me think that it was rather a waste of paper.
On the plus side, it was written in an interesting way. The paragraphs are very pithy, which I like I cannot stand authors who try to say nothing much in a whole chapter. Weldon also alternates between first person (Grace) and third person, as well as turning into diary format towards the end. I liked this constant change of style and it did help me get through the book. Another positive is the way that the book starts. The first paragraph really does grab the reader and you want to find out what happens. What a shame this isnt fulfilled.
I cant recommend this book. If I want to read about rich people and their tedious, pointless lives, Ill read Jilly Cooper at least I know exactly what to expect from it. There has to be something about Fay Weldon, otherwise she wouldnt be as famous as she is, so I will probably give one of her other books a go, but I think it will be a while before Ill do so. Two stars.
The book is available from play.com for £5.49. Published by HarperCollins, it has 224 pages. ISBN: 000712127X
The Bulgari Connection Now, it's not often I enter competitions on line. (Don't know why?) However, I entered one a couple of Sunday's ago, and by the following Wednesday I had a book land on my doormat shouting 'prize! prize!'. After I?d finished it, I was shouting something as well .... (an' it t'weren't nice neither!) Anyway. When you have books landing on your doorstep, free books, you read them. When the free books are by authors you've heard of, but never read. You read them. You do. They are free after all. I have to say, I love the cover. It's hardback and I hate hardbacks. But I love the colour. It's bright orange and pink. Garish. Kinda like Barbie met the Tango man and it got nasty! Barbie won! I like garish. I like this cover. Good start? Maybe? Maybe not? There's no blurb. The book is 'blurbless' for the want of another word. Well, not entirely. There is one, just not in its usual place. You can find it on the inside of the front cover. It's short and not particularly sweet. But the again, why should it be? Sweet that is? The book certainly isn't. Weighing in at a unsatisfactory 220 pages (it shouldn't have been that long!) the copy in my grubby little mitts is a special limited gift edition, which was first published by BVLGARI (posh jewellers) Italy S.p.A last year. Never having come across any of Fay Weldons' literally offerings until now, I didn't really know what to expect? I have seen a couple of her adaptations on the TV though. 'The Cloning of Joanna May', and 'The Loves and Lives of a She Devil'. The former did nothing to excite, while the latter was mildly amusing in parts. Neither however 'floated my boat' enough for me to rush out and obtain one of her novels. As I previously said, I've heard of her work, just never read any of it. Fay Weldon is as well known for her 'sc
reenwriting' and 'cultural journalism' skills as she is her novel writing. She has over 30 books to her name, with a range of fiction, non-fiction, short stories, and children's book among them. I started the book with an open mind. The blurb didn't give much away. And I didn't know what to expect. The only thing I had an inkling about was that the book was a prize from the 'crime' section of competitions run by www.fireandwater.com. So, naturally I was thinking 'crime book'. The first thing to hit me when opening the book was the layout. Instead of the continuous lines of print with the occasional new paragraph to break the up the pages, we are faced with smaller paragraphs. And occasionally, just the odd sentence on it's own. To add impact maybe .... I dunno? I like this layout. Whether or not it's me and my highly complex [??] way of thinking, but it seemed as if this book didn't take half as much effort to read as books that I haven't really been impressed with usually do. And 'impressed' and 'this book' are words that just don't go together I'm afraid. 'Boring', 'crap', 'pointless', and 'this book' do however. I'm only glad that I didn't start the book with any expectations. They really would have been dashed. The story is all about Doris Dubois. A cross between Alexis Colby and Anthea Turner!! A sugar covered bitch!! And the new wife of Barley Salt. The new, much younger wife of Barley Salt. She was the one, of the many mistresses, that finally made it past the wife. Blind sighted her and then stole her husband. She's an Art critic with a TV show, a C~D rated celeb with the attitude that shouldn't, but usually comes with an A rated celeb. 'I am god, and I will be obeyed' ~ that kinda thing! Barley Salt is heading for 60. A business man who after many years of marria
ge to the faithful, matronly Grace, finally surrendered to the mistress and ditched the missus for a much younger model. He made his money in the early stages of his marriage to Grace. It wasn't easy, and at times they were dodging the baliffs. Barley is in the middle of a big 'make or break' business deal. Will Doris stick around like Grace always did if Barley goes belly up? Grace Salt. Ex wife, and ex jailbird! Yep, she spent time in prison for trying to run over Doris Dubois in a supermarket car park. She really isn't as unhinged as the last paragraph might suggest. At first, life as an 'ex' is not fun. But with resilience, and a will not to let Doris take more than her husband, Grace' life changes for the better. To tell you more about characters and the story line would be pointless. You might, just might decide that you're going to like this book, and decide to hunt out a copy for yourself? Please don't? You won't. Like it that is. As well as the pointlessness in adding further details to this, it would be hard. Y'see, nothing happens! It doesn't. It really doesn't. We just plod along (aware that you are wasting your time) reading words that fail to do anything at all. There is no story line. 220 pages of pap. We read the book as the third person. But then, just occasionally, we pick up the story as the first person. Why, I don't know? Perhaps its meant as a recap facility cos all we get is the last paragraphs from a different perspective. And, to be honest, we don't really need, or learn anything more. I suppose it does give the story some variance in a way cos the story line itself certainly doesn't do it!! Of course, just when you get used to the back tracking, the first and third person change over, we then have a couple of diary extract type chapters!! Don't ask me why they appear I've no idea? But looking back, I have no idea about a lot o
f things with regards to this book. What is actual story line about? I have no bloody idea! Why was it categorised as 'crime'? I have no bloody idea! The only crime committed is that it was written in the first place! And why was it called 'The Bulgari Connection' when the contents of the novel (story is too nice a word and very misleading to be used here!) contains very, very little to do with a posh jewellers or any of the jewellery from it? Again, I have no bloody idea! Of course, there just might be people out there that have read this book and closed the last page with a sigh of satisfaction and the words 'Cor, blimey, Fay has dunit again'. I don't deny that we are all different when it comes to our preferred reading material. But I find it hard to believe that this book can be liked by anybody? It really is the pits. My copy, once I've gleaned the ISBN number from it will be heading 'carbootboxwards'. It's not staying in the life of idodoyou for a moment longer. I feel sullied, dirty, used after reading that crap. I can't help it. To leave you price and purchasing details would assume that you good people out there might want to obtain a copy of this yourselves? I feel it is my duty to keep these details from you. I will try to hamper your course of buying this book as much as I possibly can. To have you waste your time, and your energy on codswallop such as this would haunt me for the rest of my days. I don't think that I would even wish this book on my enemies? I hate it. I hated it. And I will always hate it! Publisher: Limited edition BVLGARI(2000) Flamingo (2001) Pages: 220 Price: Don't bother, cos you ain't gonna buy it!! (call me bossy if you want ~ but I'm saving your soul!) ISBN: 0 00 712126 1
The Bulgari Connection finds Fay Weldon on familiar ground, chronicling the pains and pleasures of the battle of the sexes, in this enjoyably funny novel.