After reading many mixed reviews on this book, I was interested in reading it to see how it had evoked such differing reactions. Being the debut novel of Plum Sykes, it has been compared to the very popular Sex in the City books, but also accused of being dumbed down and the same as many other books.
While I can see where this criticism comes from, I don't think its a reason not to give this book a try. The standard dumb blondes with credit cards and label addictions story is very overdone, but this isn't a particularly bad recreation. Plum creates characters who have very real personalities, and throughout the book you begin to understand who they are. The book does lack some layering, but I found that I added my own, really believing that these girls had other ambitions then to spend the day in a spa.
There are some very frustrating parts, and I almost gave up reading twice, but it certainly isn't the worst debut novel I have read. It's the perfect book for women who want to escape their lives, or teenagers who dream of rich husbands, spa days and unlimited spending. It's a chilled out, easy read which is the perfect guilt free escape, but don't expect literary genius.
Why this book
I picked this book at our local library last week. I was attracted to the book I have to admit by the cover which looked like a chic monopoly board lay out with hotels and planes on the front. The book promise a light and frothy chick lit read in the style of Sex in the City so I decided to give it a go
About the author
This book is the debut novel of Plum Sykes. She is a contributing editor at the American Vogue magazine where she has obviously taken the inspiration for this novel. She writes for both Vogue and Vanity Fair on the topics of fashion, society and Hollywood.
About the book
The book is set in New York and centres on the exploits of the central character "Moi". She is twenty something socialite whose life centers on tracking down Chanel sample sales and downing Bellinis with the group of friends she calls the Park Avenue Princesses. She is also a writer for an American magazine though very little of the novel focuses on this. Instead the novel centres on her and her friend Julie Bergdorf exploits and attempts at finding a prospective husband as they have noticed that engaged people have great skin.
I had high hopes of this book and was looking forward to a witty and sharp read similar to sex and the city author Candice Bushall work or The Devil wears Prada however I was soon disappointed.
Written in the first person and very much in the style of a monologue this book is clearly trying to emulate the Bridget Jones style of book. But where as you warm to Bridget very quickly and enjoy the self depreciating humour within in that book there is very little within Moi to endear you to her. I found myself getting exasperated very quickly with her inane view of the world and all the abbreviations and slang. As a character she has the depth of a paddling pool with no real sense of intelligence fun. I couldn't make my mind up whether the author was trying to write a satire and not hitting the mark or whether this was really a character she wanted us to like and care about either way it neither seemed to hit the spot. The writing just wasn't sharp or witty enough for a satire really. The romance writing and enduring characters you find in the likes of Jilly Cooper and Sophie Kinsella books just wasn't present in this novel.
Now I don't mind far fetched characters and don't have to relate to the characters in a novel to enjoy a novel, I enjoy many a Jilly Cooper and have never played Polo in my life. But in this case it wasn't that the characters were far fetched and unbelievable you only need to see the gossip columns about Paris Hilton to know that there are people whose lives are ruled by fashion and private jets. It was the fact that the characters in the book were just were one dimensional. As the characters were
I am not sure if the author is aware that the plot is very thin and insubstantial and has tried to cover this up with constant name-dropping such Chloe Jeans Versace Tissues (I don't even know if Versace makes Tissue!) and cutesy slang. It just made me think about advertisers using product placement really and in the worst possible way was she hoping for some freebies I wondered.
In regards to the slang its fun for a few chapters, but then it just gets boring and increasingly irritating. Even the sex talk is all very teenage with the lead character talking about "going to Brazil" (having sex) and "finding Rio" the G stop one presumes all it was just made me want to be sick. The other irritating thing about the language used is the pseudo French wording at times such as "tres" it just made me think of Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses I can't help thinking that the real Park Avenue Princess would be much more sophisticated than to do this.
Now I love my chick lit and don't mind an obvious plot line if the journey there is fun well written and engaging but a wafer thin plot line and very little in way of amusement is just not good writing and unfortunately this is what happens in this novel. The conclusion of this book is advertised as well as any Lighthouse at night really as it can be seen from so early on in the novel. The book really is just a car crash of antidotes on the way, with very little connecting the dots to give the novel a sense of continuity and roundedness.
To sum up how I feel about this book here is the image that comes to mind to sum it up is "flat warm champagne" By this I mean you are hoping for something frothy and nice but instead you get something that is lack luster and a huge disappointment. Save your pennies for another book is my advice
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin; paperback / soft back edition (7 April 2006)
Currently available from Amazon for £5.49