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White Lies and Tiaras - Marilyn Kaye

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Print Length: 289 pages / Publisher: Orchard Books / Published: 6 Sep 2012

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      20.10.2012 14:47
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      A blast from my reading past

      Alice has been invited to a wedding, but she's not that excited by this news. The groom is her childhood sweetheart, Jack, but since she's moved on (sort of) and has a new boyfriend (sort of) there's no real reason for her not to go. After all, the wedding is in Paris, and her best friend Lara, Jack's cousin, will also be there. They've both been invited with plus-ones so Alice can take Cal, and Lara can bring Harry, and they can have some fun in the French capital when they're not expected to be doing family-and-friend stuff with the wedding party.

      There plans for a romantic mini break are scuppered, though, when they realise the sleeping arrangements in the château and when Jack's fiancée Nathalie steps in to babysit them during their stay. Nathalie is, well, not quite what they had expected. And as they spend time with her and with Jack's friends, the girls start to feel a bit uneasy about the impending nuptials and begin to question their own relationships in the process.

      This book wasn't exactly as I expected. I had assumed they would be American and I had assumed they would be in high school, but a few pages in and it was clear I was wrong on both counts, as Lara and Alice are British, and attending Nottingham university. I had also imagined more of the story might have been devoted to the wedding, but in fact the focus is on the few days leading up to the event. The title is no lie, though, as there are lots of white lies (and bigger fibs) and Nathalie does go on, and on, about her tiara.

      I really enjoyed this story, and though it is aimed at a young adult audience, it's a nicely worded and well developed tale. In other words it's not been dumbed down for its readership. There were lots of twists, right to the very end, and although it was shiningly obvious what needed to happen for a happy ever after, it wasn't clear whether everything would come together in time or whether it would be too little, too late. I like the character of Nathalie, for all she was the baddy, and the contrast between her and the British girls was fun, especially in light of how the French viewed the English throughout. There are some more adult themes in this book - Alice is stressed about whether she should be sleeping with Cal; people are suspecting Nathalie may be pregnant - but they're very much glossed over, and most of the action is limited to chaste kisses here and there. A lot is implied rather than stated explicitly too, and while this allows the reader to fill in as much or as little as their knowledge, experience and imagination will let them, I'm pretty sure saying 'tampon' rather than describing a thin white tube coming from a feminine products dispenser in the loos wouldn't have lowered the tone too much...

      Marilyn Kaye may be best known with current teens for her Replica and Gifted series, but I was reading her back in the early 90s when she was all about 4 all-American sisters with kleptomaniac friends and campaigns for class president, or 3 orphans whose adventures included farm shops, working as maids and helping cute boys cheat on tests, if my memory serves me correctly. I was happy to see she's not lost her touch, and though I didn't object at the time (for I was obsessed with the Sisters and Three of a Kind books), I imagine this latest offering is much slicker in style than was typical of teen books from my pre-teen days.

      Overall this is an easy but well plotted read that took no time at all to get into, but that kept me up reading way past my bedtime. That's surely the definition of a good 'un.

      Out now in paperback and on Kindle.

      This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk

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