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I am quite a big Martina Cole fan, and have read quite a number of her books so of course Amazon putting these hints together popped up with a little 'Recommended for you' section which I of course scanned through (as I am now an official amazon addict!) and this book by Kimberly Chambers flagged up. I had a quick scan of the synopsis and it sounded rather interesting so I put my dooyoo vouchers to good use. This was probably in January this year! I started reading the book but it wasn't one of those books I just couldn't put down so it collected dust with a bookmark on about the 18th page for a VERY LONG time. So, 2 weeks ago I was off to Barbados for 10 days and with an 8 hour flight each way, and loads of lazing on the beach time I knew I would definitely find myself the time to squeeze in finishing this book as I really hate leaving books unread!
- Storyline -
The story revolves around Stephanie and her sister Angela and their love lives commencing from young teenage years to adulthood with kids. Stephanie initially likes a boy called Wayne, but crushed when she discovers he is actually dating her younger, prettier sister she dislikes him with a passion. Stephanie ends up falling for his best friend and new kid at School Barry who lives across the road (and has a bit of a slag of a mum to put it nicely!) but her mum doesn't want her dating the boy of such an awful family. After a whirlwind romance, nevertheless the two are in Love and as her mum comes to accept him, Barry's mum has met a new, old rich guy and wants to run off to Sunny Spain to be with him, calling time on Barry and Stephanies relationship.
Stephanie is left behind feeling distraught and heartbroken and has only her best friend Tammy to pick up the pieces. Having broken up with Angela now, (after discovering she is actually only 13) Wayne as Barry's best friend is to look after Stephanie, and eventually they become good friends. Unfortunately, they become way to close and also ending up falling for each other, unaware that Tammy has also fallen in love with Wayne too! Of course from all the way in Spain, Barry finds out and can't believe the love of his life and his best friend have betrayed him in such a way.
Fast forward 10 years and Stephanie and Wayne are now happy with 2 kids and due to get married. However, Barry is back in old Blighty and he still hasn't forgiven the pair of them. After pretending to bury the hatchet and becoming friends, Barry attends Wayne's stag do along with some other of their childhood friends and they go to a strip club, where Wayne goes outside to find his friend and is never seen again.....
- My Opinion -
To begin with the book was hard to get into as there were so many characters and names, and even at some points I couldn't keep track what was going on! However, 5 hours laying on a beach gave me loads of time to fill my head with ludicrous literature which at time was very humorous. Barry's mum, Marlene was absolutely classic as a woman with no morals and no standards, as the guy she lives in Spain with dies after 10 years and she thinks she is going to cop a fortune. After reading his will in which he leaves her only "£1000 in the hope she will now buy clothes that are not 2 sizes too small or a shed to live in" I was almost in stitches on my sun lounger! She remarks to the solicitor that she deserves more for giving his shrivelled little manhood oral pleasure! (well in not such a polite term she uses vulgar language it's awful but quite funny!)
In terms of the storyline I found it was quite weak and the character of Stephanie as the lead, was never developed properly and I couldn't understand the authors reasoning for heaping such a huge amount of misery on her. Her sister Angela is a wicked awful character for 90% of the book and by the end Chambers tries to make her turn around but with no real reason or explanation is given to justify her reformed personality as Mrs Nice guy. The ending seems too rushed and ineffective as you literally find out on the last page what has happened to Wayne after all these years. There was some level of suspense as I quickly flicked to the last page to find out the truth, and it really was a bit of a disappointment as I kind of suspected what was revealed, but it wasn't explained in a satisfactory way and I felt the book ended on a bit of a let down.
- Overall -
The book was an interesting read, and helped pass the time but clearly only in a situation where I had nothing else to do, as I had started reading it months ago and it wasn't as interesting as I'd hoped. I have to give this book 3 stars as it wasn't awful, and I did enjoy reading it, only it took too long for me to get into, and it feels a bit like a cheap rip-off version of Martina Cole just without much violence. Not sure I'd recommend it, as there are much better reads on the shelf and I'm ready to try something new!
I'm quite an open minded reader and will happily dip into varied titles and genres; this author was sold as the "new Martina Cole", sadly it was not to be a novel that I was to enjoy. If I was hoping to read a thriller, given the title, I was pretty soon disappointed. Perhaps the fact that the most glowing review on the cover is from the now defunct News of the World should have been warning enough; to cut to the chase I can't recommend this book myself as someone who enjoys a light read and even a bit of trashy fantasy from time to time, sadly this tale had very little to recommend it. The characters were pretty well all unlikeable from the start and though there was some mileage to be got from the "back to the eighties" opening of the book - the story follows the characters through the years up to the near present - I couldn't help but think that actually it would have been no bad thing if the whole cast of characters had been fed to the sharks like the unhappy woman in the prologue.
The story is that of Stephanie, being brought up in Dagenham, with her n'er do well sister Angela and a whole community of slappers, muvvers and bruvers - innit. The young Stephanie, aged 14 falls in love with Barry and then takes up with his best mate when he moves to Spain, so much is revealed in the blurb on the back of the book. I imagine that the interest in this tale is supposed to be from the suspense of Barry moving back to the UK years later and plotting revenge. Unfortunately this failed to interest me at all and the antics of the rest of the characters like the despicable Pam and Cathy, Pam's hard-drinking dwarf sister Lin (yes you read that right,) and varied hangers on and minor characters none of whom seemed to have a brain cell between them or any ability to speak in sentences that didn't involve swearing, became tedious after I had read surprisingly few pages too. Undaunted I pressed on, but in all honesty it just wasn't to get any better. Even having more than its fair share of sex scenes couldn't make up for the lack of much happening at all, and said scenes were seedy not steamy. If that wasn't bad enough the phonetic East End dialogue ("ere wanna hear the latest") was omnipresent and actually quite hard to read. It was, as per the press release on the back of my review copy "Jeremy Kyle meets the Only Way is Essex", this I think was probably not a good thing. I think it may have been supposed to be gritty but it was just rather vile in so many ways. The twist in the plot at the end came as no surprise either, and unfortunately by the time I got to it I was just kind of pleased the whole thing was over.
I'm no literature snob but I didn't enjoy this book and I really wouldn't recommend it.
Book is 560 pages, and available on Amazon for £3.86 in paperback form