Its about this time of year that animal charities and welfare organisations plead with us not to give animals as presents, because an animal is for life not just for Christmas. But every year in the days and weeks after December 25th their shelters and veterinary practices are inundated with the results of weak-willed and irresponsible parents, who gave in to the demands of their kids. Who up until the 24th December, think every cute kitten or puppy is a must, but by midday on Christmas day the reality is it can’t compete with a doll or a computer game, which has no responsibilities attached and can be left down and picked up at will. Well with this months book, I feel a bit like this and more importantly I’ve been sold a pup. The book is Laura by Anne Firth.
This is the second of two books that I was invited by Austin MacAuley Publishing to select for review from the range on their website (www.austinmacauley.com) earlier this year. What appealed to me was the blurb both on the website and on the back of the book when it arrived. The blurb states: Laura Blakeslee is a promising law student. When she picks up a part-time job with the Manley brothers, she thinks Henri, Robert and William are no more then a quaint bunch of bachelors. Yet their offices have a grand staircase leading to a STRICTLY PRIVATE notice? If it’s just for storage why is it out of bounds? Also why is the largest room in the offices left unused? Is it also connected to the mysterious “Robert’s Boys” coming in to care for the beautiful, but hidden back garden? All three Manley Brothers have secrets, but little does Laura know that their father has the deepest secret of all. Unwittingly she has stumbled on a trail that will lead to a mysterious island in Bermuda, a ghost story, a love story and the woman whose bracelet she wears.
What I got was the first two hundred pages of a three hundred page book filled with Laura shagging her way across Canada and then the south of England, before she even comes anywhere near the Manley brothers and their weird hot chocolate filled lives. It’s peppy at the start but then gets puerile after that. The book is more like Fifty Shades meets Sex and The City in the Home Counties and a poor imitation of Fifty Shades at that. The book is pure suburban erotica, not set in any sort of reality. When Laura finally settles down with her husband Tom, they have it away like rabbits almost every night as well as consuming wine like a pair of alcoholics, which as we all know is not going to help him in the bedroom dept, let alone her. It comes across all jolly hockey sticks and quite Enid Blyton-esque, although there wasn’t as much sex in Ms Blyton’s work.
The book is divided into three parts, but the first one and a half are totally useless and by the time you get to any sort of mystery, then there’s a fifty page preface to go through at the start of part three. Anne Firth may have thought she was drawing out the suspense, but you have to have built some sort of suspense first before drawing it out. In this instance she was just prolonging the agony.
At this stage, as I write the review, I’ve got three quarters of the way through the book and its still hasn’t delivered on any real mystery or ghost story. So having lost all Interest in this tawdry piece of bunkum, I’ve given up. The best thing Anne can do with this book is rip out the first two thirds and republish Laura as a novella.
This is Firth’s first novel and going by it, she might want to consider going back to her roots(excuse the pun) running a successful hair and beauty business in the south of England or seek some new wise council on how to write your first serious piece of literature. Yes, a few successful actors have started their careers by making the odd pornographic flick just too make ends meet, but very quickly they have moved on to bigger and better things and have tried to bury their sordid past. Porn stars never win Oscars.
In the literary world, trying to use sex to sell your first novel is not on either As I’ve said earlier it’s worked once – all eyes’ are now on EL James to see what she’ll do next, people have tried to copy her success but this topic is a one hit wonder. Why not start by writing children’s stories, plays or even TV and radio dramas. Then if you think you have a penchant for eroticism by all means inject some into to your various works, but not bury the first serious piece in it.
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all my followers on Word Press, Facebook,Twitter and LinkedIn a Happy and Prosperous New Year for 2015 and I look forward to bringing you more book reviews over the next twelve months. Please spread the word about The Library Door to your friends and family.
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