Sunday, April 02, 2006

Gasbag Review

Ok so I am only a week late. But here is my offering for the Sporadic Gasbag Roundtable as requested.

For my little critique I have chosen Tall Poppies by Louise Bagshaw. Yes for my sins I have actually read this precocious excuse for a book. I should have known better and run for the hills when I read the blurb on the cover;

'They call it the tall poppy syndrome. If you are too successful, you must be cut down to size.

Nina and Elizabeth are tall poppies. One a poor Jewish girl from Brooklyn who becomes a top-flight business woman, the other an English public schoolgirl who not only succeeds at business but also establishes herself as an Olympic skier. (What!)

As both women make their mark, there are enemies hell-bent on destroying their careers.'

So there you have it... the bod in the marketing department can probably write better fiction than Ms Bagshawe in their sleep. Even before I enter the realms of the 'storyline' you have two clues as to why this book is such a load of codswallop.

a) I have never met an English public schoolgirl who had any ability to redeem themselves academically.

b) An English Olympic skier. Oh for heavens sake behave yourself woman. What on earth possessed her to chose that, why not crown green bowls, or curling.

The characters are introduced within the first few paragraphs, personally I don't know why she bothered, they are the usual gross caricatures of their 'type'. Nina Roth the feisty, (her words not mine), Brooklyn girl whose parents marriage has broken down, drunk mother, disinterested father who slobs around in his vest all day, who rely on their daughter to keep the family business from going under. Elizabeth, Lady Caerhaven, whose mother died when she was little, and whose father is a bully named Tony Savage, the thirtieth Earl of Caerhaven. Ok so which titled aristocrat is going to christen any of their little offspring, let alone the heir, Tony. Good old Tony is a tycoon, who owns masses of land has a mouse for a second wife, and thinks that women should be seen and not heard. No stereotype there then.

So having established that the characters are based on the sort of fictional scribblings you would have produced in your playtime at primary school, we'll move onto what is laughingly called the plot. The story starts when both girls are seventeen years old, Nina gets herself pregnant by the rich boy from the other side of the tracks, he doesn't want to know, (why am I not even interested, let alone surprised). Lady Elizabeth, (as her friends like to call her), is such a little rebel, she actually refuses to attend her own 'coming out' party... shock, horror, she is packed off to finishing school in Switzerland. Nina climbs the corporate ladder with her feisty determination and incredible ability to learn everything there is to know about everything in ten seconds flat. (By the way the baby is conveniently 'lost', early on, just in case we weren't being sympathetic to one of our heroines.) She ends up working for, guess who? Good old Tony. Actually in more ways than one. Meanwhile back at finishing school, Lady Elizabeth attends a talk by a very old, very famous ex Olympic skier and hey presto, she becomes an Olympic skier in line for Gold. Eventually good old Tony p****s them both off so much by taking everything away from them, they decide to get their own back, become best friends and ruin him.

Hold on, lets just back track a moment, did I say British Olympic Gold medalist in Skiing... yes I did. Ms Bagshawe, YOU CAN WRITE FICTION. Ah but this is not the best bit, my favourite part of this whole gigglefest is the location of the British Olympic skiers training camp. Tunbridge Wells in Kent, where of course the mountains are filled with snow all year round. Which planet is our dear Ms Bagshawe from? Having lived a short hop, skip and a pirouette, from T-Wells for the last ten years I have to inform you that she could not have chosen a more ridiculous place. It is in the main inhabited by the retired, blue rinse brigade. The only slopes are those from the pavement to the road for the wheelchair users. Of course none of this matters in the least as poor old Lady Elizabeth never wins her dream gold, in the final run she has an horrific accident putting an end to her skiing ambitions, and thankfully putting us out of our misery too. This book has more formulas than a maths text book.

A note on the author taken from the book: Elizabeth - with her natural beauty and long blonde hair - bears a marked resemblance to Louise Bagshawe herself. 'It is not just our looks,' Louise confesses. 'In fact I went to school with many girls like Elizabeth and grew up with them. (I rest my case for point a) above.)


It should have been Oneear's reveiw this Sunday, but he decided he couldn't wait and so posted his review last Tuesday. I thank him, for taking the heat off me. However you can catch the re-run here .

10 at confession:

Attila The Mom said...

"The only slopes are those from the pavement to the road for the wheelchair users."

Bahahahaha! Brilliant!

phlegmfatale said...

Oh dear, this is disturbing! How did this person even get a book deal?

Rhonda said...

A fabulous review that offers hope for anyone who thinks they write well enough for publication. How frightening.

I was going to quote the same line Atilla did. I giggled and giggled reading it.

I really enjoyed this, my saintly friend!

Kippa Herring said...

What a load of crap (not your murderously brill 'review', that is). Small poopies is more like.
I never intended intend to read this book, if only because I'd never even heard of it. Just as well to be forwarned, though. Who knows, it might have crept up on me unawares. Now I'm determined NEVER to read it, never, ever. Not under any circumstances whatsoever. Not even torture.

The denizens of Royal Tunbridge Wells will doubtless be doing the ton down the esplanade in their wheel chairs over this. That is, if they don't expire from apoplexy first. Convoy!

Charlie said...

The most disturbing thing to me, SJ, is that you read it all the way through.

I originally thought this was a "romance", but now I think it's the updated version called "Chick Lit". Same stuff, equally absurd.

Unfortunately, these "books" are written because people read them. The "dumbing down of the world", I believe it's called.

And I've never understood a "finishing" school. How does one finish something that was never begun?

An excellent review, and Martha is searching Amazon UK for it.

St Jude said...

I did read it all the way through, but I have a confession of my own. It was the abridged version, I couldn't stomach the complete version.

frankengirl said...

A note on the author taken from the book: Elizabeth - with her natural beauty and long blonde hair - bears a marked resemblance to Louise Bagshawe herself. 'It is not just our looks,' Louise confesses. 'In fact I also went to school with many aliens like Elizabeth and grew up with them.

hehehe - ;)

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