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This is a review of the 2006 book 'The Rise and Fall of the Queen of Suburbia' by Sarah May. Described as a black-hearted soap opera, I was hoping for something light-hearted and fun to read having started a few books lately and not getting past the first few pages, I think my concentration is lapsing, which is not like me.
I'm pleased to say I finished this one, but to be honest it was only through sheer grit and determination to prove I could do it and I never felt that I was fully immersed in this novel.
A little about the story
The book focuses on a new estate of people, the families and people living in the houses and what goes on behind closed doors. Everyone knows each other and their business and there's lots of jealousy, one-gunmanship and general keeping up with the Jones' going on.
The main character appears to be Linda Palmer, married to Joe with teen daughter Jessica. Linda is very 'busy doing nothing' so the self-titled 'Queen of Suburbia' is probably quite accurate. She is an obsessive dieter, on slimming shakes which are frankly making her depressed and manically ill. Her determination to 'beat' neighbour Dominique (married to Mick) in all things from aerobics to sex are quite amusing. She convinces herself that Joe is having an affair with Dominique but is she right?
Meanwhile, there are a whole host of other loners and losers living in the other houses who drift in and out of the storyline.
What I hated about this book
I found some of the cruelty towards animals awful to read in this book. Linda is horrible to her two dogs and unsympathetic when her fish dies. I really hated it when she mowed over her dog because she thought it was being lazy lying in the middle of the lawn. I don't think it was totally necessary to the storyline although it did demonstrate how unstable Linda was on an ongoing basis.
What I liked..
Not much to be frank. But I did find the 'electoral register' page at the front handy, it told you who lived at which house and each chapter was titled with the house number so you knew who was narrating each section. This way you got to see things from different angles.
A bit random
I felt like there were too many characters introduced in this book, from family friends to distant relations and the switching between Littlehaven to Brighton a little confusing.
I didn't take to any of the characters in this book, and didn't particularly enjoy reading it. I note the author has a number of books that begin with 'The fall and rise of...' but I don't think I'll be seeking them out as I didn't find this one that enjoyable.