Available for Harper here.
Take two young and glamourous American women – one rich and one poor – and one bloke, an investigative TV reporter, who researches the sort of social issues that women readers care about. A simple formula, isn’t it, as obviously, only one of the young and glamourous women can have the bloke? There’s not much you can do with something like that – or is there? Barbara managed to do an awful lot with it.
Barbara Taylor Bradford knows her readership inside out, exactly who they want to be, who they want to be with and where they want to travel on the page. She also appreciates how much tension they can take, and how much action/disaster, how much seediness and evil they can cope with and how much sex. She allowed herself only 100 pages in which to work through a plot which made perfect sense, without deviating or getting stuck up blind alleys. She is quite rightly judged to a master (mistress?) of her genre.
But what am I saying, Dear Reader? Haven’t I written before that I HATE CHICKLIT? I do, I do. But you’ve got to admire someone who does it as well as this. I’m glad I read this short book (and also relieved it wasn’t any longer). This was a book about seering emotion, about obsession, possession and jealousy masquerading as love, where one character paid thousands of dollars for a hairstyle and clothes, which she then wrecked in frustration and despair. However, the characters themselves were not clearly delineated and the reader cannot see how the main two girls got to be where they were as personalities. A schoolgirl incident, which took place a little while before the first page, was supposed to explain everything, but it didn’t, because this happening itself begged further questions. This is not the sort of novel where you ask ‘why’, because there is no ‘why’ to be found. Nor is there any sense of place. Most of the action took place in New York, but there were no illuminating descriptions of the Big Apple. I’m not sure whether it was assumed that the reader knew enough about the city to picture it for herself or whether she was supposed not to be bothered about location. I suspect the latter.
But, quite blatantly, this is not literary writing. Goodness only knows, there is enough literary stuff about – much of it excreable and pretentious. This unashamedly genre fiction was written in straightforward prose, with a plot that worked, and in good (American) English. Job well done!
On another subject, I must apologise to everybody whose blog I follow, as the email notifications from WordPress have suddenly stopped, so I haven’t been visiting. I used to get about twenty updates every Monday morning, something which really brightened the start of my week. I have adjusted settings in Blogs I Follow (to receive notifications of posts) and in Settings (to make sure this blog is connected to the correct email address). I have even got on to a WordPress user forum, but nothing seems to make any difference. If anybody has any ideas, I would be very pleased to hear from him/her. I must mention, though, that I do get notifications of Comments on my own posts.
I have also managed to get round to subbing one story, to the Alfie Dog International Short Story Competition (which closed at midnight yesterday). Mine must have been one of the last entries. It always amazes me how long subbing takes, even when you don’t have to edit the story itself, but afterwards I really felt as if I’d achieved something yesterday evening. Now, it’s fingers crossed until the short list at the end of this month.