What happens when the power of love challenges the love of power? 'So, have you met the Prime Minister before?' Suave PM Julian Jenson has just been re-elected. The nation's darling, he has an elegance and natural charm in public. But in private the cracks are starting to show. At his side is his wife, Valerie. Trim, tall, well educated but deeply unhappy - with her son and daughter away at school, alcohol is becoming a trusted friend. Sally Simpson is at the peak of her game. Powerful editor of the bestselling magazine Celeb, she can't wait to take her rightful place by Julian's side. Sexy TV reporter Isla McGovern has caught Julian's eye, and she will do anything (or anyone) to get to the top. When the three women meet, so begins a perfect storm, and only one can emerge as the First Lady.
When it was announced Kay Burley would be writing a novel, I wasn't in the slightest bit interested. Celebrity novels make me want to cry, because more often than not they just aren't that good. There are exceptions to the rule, absolutely, but to be honest a celebrity getting a book deal takes away a book deal from someone who has written all of their life. I then read a review of First Ladies, and even the review made me cringe at just how bad First Ladies sounded. However, I received a copy to review, and I wanted to see for myself just how bad it was. With the greatest of respect to Kay, she should have stuck with her day job.
The idea of First Ladies is a good one, but to be honest it's so poorly executed that I don't really know where to begin. Although the synopsis makes it sound as though the three ladies go head-to-head for Julian's affections, that couldn't be further than the truth. There is no battle. Each woman just thinks, separately, that the Prime Minister wants to be with them. The women - Valeria, Isla and Sally - are all bit-part players because at the end of the day the entire novel revolves around Julian Jenson. The three women don't even meet each other until the end of the novel (except for the first chapter, which basically sets it up, but then that meeting doesn't occur properly until the end). It was very anti-climatic. I did finish the novel, which I suppose is a feat in itself but I never really felt anything for it. I was just turning the pages, to see what (if anything) would happen.
For the first 50 or so pages, I did sort of like the book. It didn't seem terrible, but then it all gets ruined by the writing. This book in terms of writing skill is atrocious. It reads like a very bad Mills and Boon novel. Julian Jenson is the slimiest Prime Minister I think I've ever read about. As the Prime Minister he should be a man of power, but instead he comes across like a lovesick puppy, consistently saying "Dance with me, darling". It made me cringe to hear the way Kay portrayed him. That is not how a Prime Minister should be portrayed and I do not even want to know who Kay based Julian on. You're meant to think the male in a Chick Lit novel is someone you could be attracted to. I wanted to throw up on Julian. I wanted to punch him because he made me feel sick. Every time he opened his gob, all I could think was "ew" because I knew he was going to spout some kind of terrible guff (and I don't even say 'guff'. But that's what he spouted). You wouldn't think it would be hard to write a male character, but Burley proves to be the exception. Her male character writing is horrible.
As for the females. Isla, Valerie and Sally. I felt kinda sorry for Valerie. Her husband was a total sleazeball. But, really, I didn't really care for any of the characters. It's hard for sympathy to remain for Valerie when she's little more than a pill-popping drunk. Isla and Sally don't fare better. Isla is meant to be 'intelligent' but she comes across as a total idiot because she knows nothing. Both Sally and Isla are happy to sleep with someone who is married but the worst part is, I never felt that any of them really loved each other. Sally and Isla didn't love Julian, they loved the idea of being in No 10. Julian didn't love them, he didn't love anybody but himself frankly. There was only one character in the whole novel I enjoyed and that was 'spin doctor' Ben (do you know he's a spin doctor? Seriously, he's a spin doctor. Spin doctor. Spin doctor. Spin doctor! That's how much we're reminded of Ben's job). I found him mildly amusing, but Kay didn't know which way to take him. She hinted at his sexuality, but didn't take it anywhere, it was rather mildly pointless.
Like I said, the idea for the novel was interesting. But somebody else should have written it. Kay Burley is not a writer, I'm sorry but if I ever hear her call herself one I'll probably smash my TV. She'd have been better off getting it ghost written, it would have been infinitely less cringe inducing. A novel shouldn't make me feel embarrassed to be reading it. Despite finding it an easy read, I did spend most of the time wondering where Kay got the inspiration for her writing. She must have, seriously, read the entire Mills and Boon catalogue before sitting down to write because it's toe-curlingly bad. It wasn't racy, it wasn't juicy, it was just bad. As much as I love Tasmina Perry as an author, I would love to know how she thinks First Ladies is a "juicy read". Unless she blended it up, and drank it, then I suppose it could indeed be "juicy". I've got no idea who the novel is based on, although the Internet tells me Tony Blair? Personally I hope not. That's just gross, and, well I doubt ole' Tony would be happy frankly. Fact is, I don't want to know who it's about. I just want to get as far away from the book as I can and it'll be a sad, sad day if Kay writes another one. Kay Burley, we do not need you in the Chick Lit world. Honestly, you're not helping our cause.