This is a review of the 2006 book "The Matchbreaker" by Chris Manby, an author I've been increasingly following (and enjoying) just lately.
A bit about 'the Matchbreaker'
In this book, we follow Lindsey Parker, a girl in her mid twenties who has never really done anything with her life since leaving university with a third rate degree. She's a bit shallow and blames everything on her father's unsuitable string of fiancés he's had since her mother died when she was little. Lindsey will do anything to stand in the way of her dad and his girlfriends and dreams up weird and wonderful lies and plots to make sure they are out of favour and leave.
This time she means business, with Karen, the latest step mum to be, Lindsey plants drugs, sets up a male honey trap and eventually pushes her off a 150ft luxury yacht and leaves her to drown which should be enough to get Karen off the scene, wouldn't it?
I found it interesting to consider what are Lindsey's motivations? Fear that she will lose her inheritance, spoilt only child syndrome and just wanting to be the one (and only) her dad dotes on are some of the factors. I think Lindsey's got some growing up to do and only she can set herself on that path.
What changes Lindsey?
The realisation that she doesn't have any friends left in her address book, and all her credit cards are maxed out force her to take action. Fortunately, old childhood 'friend' Poupeh (the one she called 'poopee' at school) is there to the rescue and generously gives her spare room up so Lindsey has a roof over her head.
Men and relationships
This is one of the main themes of the book and you can't help but feel Lindsey falls on her feet when she meets the lovely Cavanagh who sweeps her off her feet (with his Porche). He shows her the true feelings behind a relationship and how good love can be.
What would I change?
I would have liked to have seen Lindsey's dad be a bit harder with her and not let her get away with such an easy life. He does start to get better as the book progresses but he's given her far too easy a life to now. I thought some of the storyline was a bit predictable and I was guessing what was going to happen well ahead of the 'reveal' but I think the author actually wants you to do this as there is an extra twist to the tale at the end. Of course I'm not going to say what that is, you'll have to read it yourself!
I loved reading this book, although it didn't take me long to whizz through it. I never felt particularly sympathetic towards the lead character but I don't think you are particularly meant to like her.
I had only read one of Chris Manby's novels, which was 'Ready or Not' a book which I loved, so I was keen to read more. I was given a copy of the Matchbreaker, and couldn't wait to start reading...
Lindsay Parker has been brought up by her father Alex, following her mothers death when she was a young girl. She has just left university and is living back at home, but is yet to find a job - mainly because she hasn't bothered to look for one, preferring to live off daddy's money. Lindsay does love her father though, and the two are very close, but Lindsay really doesn't really approve of her dad's taste in women.
Alex has just got engaged to his personal trainer, Karen, and Lindsay is not at all happy. Karen is a bit younger than Alex, and slightly chavvy, with a bit of a penchant for Juicy Couture tracksuits with slogans across the bum and fake designer handbags. Lindsay is quite spoilt and snooty, and doesn't think Karen is anywhere near good enough to be dating her father, let alone marrying him, so sets about trying to break the pair up.
Lindsay has never been very nice to Karen, no matter how hard Karen has tried to be nice to her, but Lindsay pretends to her father that she is making an effort, and offers to organise Karen's hen weekend - a trip to Ibiza with her and her best friend Gemma on Gemma's parents yacht. At first Karen is a little reluctant, as she is suspicious of Lindsay's kindness, not to mention that she has never met Gemma before, but in the end agrees to go.
It seems though, that Karen was right to be suspicious, as Lindsay tries all ways to break them up. Lindsay's initial plans go wrong, and she is getting frustrated and angry. After a drunken argument on the Yacht, Lindsay pushes Karen overboard, claiming it was an accident. Although murder was not really her plan, Lindsay is still a little annoyed when Karen turns up the next day safe and well.
Karen promptly leaves Alex, but when he finds out what Lindsay has done, he throws her out onto the streets and she has her first taste of living in the real world. Will this spoilt brat be able to cope on her own? And what she do when she realises that being with Karen is the only way her father will be happy?
~What I thought~
Most chick-lit novels, you identify with and sympathise with the main character -or heroine - and root for her throughout the novel, but this book was quite different. At first I thought that Lindsay was probably right about Karen, being a gold-digger, but the more we learnt about Karen, the more I thought she seemed like she had a heart of gold, and I realised that Lindsay was just being selfish and over-reacting.
I think though, ultimately it's quite interesting to get into the head of such a spoiled brat and at times you almost feel pleased at her downfall - when she realises she has no money and no daddy to fall back on.
One complaint I have, is that I feel the blurb on the back of the book gave away too much about the plot. In fact, some of the things mentioned on the back of the book don't happen until about 200 pages in, and the book is only around 300 pages long. In my description above I tried not to give too much away though, and I hope I haven't spoiled it for anyone.
Even with a spiteful and at times downright awful main character, I found that I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I read it in the space of two days, which, as anyone who knows me can tell you, is extremely quick, as it can sometimes take me over a month to get through a novel!
Although, like I said, I knew what was coming from the back of the book - that and the fact that the story is quite predictable near to the end - I found that I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened to Lindsay and if she would ever get her comeuppance.
This can be bought from Amazon for £5.49
I really enjoyed this book, and if you like chick-lit or just Chris Manby in general, I would recommend it.
My fiance bought me this for our anniversary. Strange present but it has a significance. When we first started dating, he noticed that I liked Chris Manby so hence the present, I'm guessing. I don't know how much he paid for it but you can buy the hardback copy on Amazon for £10 or in paperback for £5.49.
The whole story revolves around Lindsey Parker. She has just finished university and is getting ready for her father's wedding. She's not happy about this and wants to break up her father (Alex) and her soon to be stepmum, Karen, as soon as possible. She hatches a plan of taking Karen on a hen night in Ibiza. There, Lindsey wants to get Karen into as much trouble as possible so her dad dumps her. Gemma, who's Lindsey best friend, invites them to stay on their yacht. Lindsey is hoping that her and Gemma will team together to get rid of her soon to be stepmother.
Lindsey ends up getting really drunk on the ship and has an argument with Karen about her marrying her dad. She 'accidently' pushes Karen over the edge and she falls into the water. This is not exactly the plan that Lindsey had in mind, she thinks she's killed Karen but doesn't really seem fazed by the fact that she might have killed someone.
Anyway, Karen is found alive, Gemma tells Lindsey to go and that they are not best friends anymore. When Lindsey gets back home from Ibiza, she finds that Karen has left her dad. A few months on, Lindsey gets tipsy and blurts out that she's happy that she almost killed Karen. On hearing this, her dad kicks her out.
With no job and no place to go, lots of things go wrong but she ends up finding a friend in her old schoolmate, Poupeh, who's a private investigator. Lindsey feels absolutely horrible about what she did to Karen and her dad (about time) and Poupeh encourages her to get her dad and Karen back together.
So Lindsey follows Karen around and finds out that Karen has a new boyfriend, Barney. Lindsey turns honey-trapper and sets out to seduce Barney but instead she finds herself falling in love with him. So does Lindsey succeed in getting Karen and her dad back together? What happens between her and Barney? Does Lindsey really change?
I thought it wasn't a bad read but it had moments where I just thought it was cringeworthy and for the first half of the book, I had no compassion for Lindsey when her father tells her to leave. She comes across as a spoiled brat especially when she calls her father's secretary, Clare, because he's reduced her credit card limit to only £6000 (before it was £40,000) and she whines at Clare for not being sympathy. Clare informs her that she only takes home £15,000 a year after tax.
At that point, I was thinking "Do I really want to read a book about a spoiled annoying selfish brat?". Anyway, I don't like leaving a book unfinished so I kept on reading. I felt slightly robbed when I guessed the ending five chapters before the end. I really thought there would be a twist or two.
Lindsey redeems herself a bit by the end of the book but still, I found it a bit strange on how everyone including Karen just forgave her for all the things that she had done. Chris Manby's writing style, all from Lindsey point of view, was spot on but I do question some of the characters and some of the plot. I know it's meant to be a romance book, chick-lit and so on but it didn't seem a very real to life story to me.
Also the name Barney had me thinking of a purple dinosaur all through the book, which was a funny image in my head but I don't think it was the one that Chris Manby wanted me to think of.
This is definitely just a holiday read and I wouldn't pay more than £2 for it. It's something I would buy in a charity shop. It's definitely not one of Chris' Manby best books. It's probably the worst book that I've read of hers and her work seems to be deteriorating, the more books she writes. Her early books are interesting and fresh but as each new book comes out, especially in the last couple of years, they seem to have lost of the magic that the earlier books have. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad book but I expected more of it because of the author.