Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review | RSVP by Helen Warner

Last week The Economist came out with a chilling article, no it wasn’t about how the oil bubble was about to burst or a financial Armageddon, but about the demise of a much loved genre of our generation--Chick-Lit. Devastated, as the state of my near financial future is directly correlated to how this particular genre of women’s literature does on the shelves, I hiked up my skirt and ran to my nearest bookshop. Lo and behold, staring right in front of me was the zeitgeist of our times - vampire blood lust semi soft porn catering to teens, Nora Roberts, the new Michael Crichton novel and finally countless paperbacks with colorful pastel colors that made me sigh with relief. One such book was RSVP by Helen Warner. A novel about four girls- Anna, Clare, Ella, and Rachel, and how they battle with love lost and weight gained.

Anna is a dowdy teacher dragging herself through countless dreary days when she receives a wedding invitation from the ‘One that Got Away’. Obviously distraught she turns to Clare, a serial dater and tomboy sidekick, who convinces her to attend it. Ella, think Joan Collins from Dynasty sans the power shoulders since this woman is only a PA,  a consequence of being a bitch in university and wanting said man, is also considering attending the wedding. Finally Rachel, the women about to marry Anna's ‘One that Got Away’ has doubts on whether the object of everyone’s affection, is actually IN love with her.

Anna’s love story is told over a period of flashbacks that take us to Trinity College, a wasted opportunity, as Trinity could have by itself been the heart of the novel. But no, it features as a staid backdrop for a boring story of love at first sight. By far the most predictable yet most interesting character arc is that of Ella who is portrayed as devil incarnate. It has been a long time since I have actually encountered such a one-dimensional villain without an ounce of humour. I skipped many pages containing predictable dialogue and description, the man – I forget his name, is often described as ‘handsome’ or ‘with dazzling smile’. The climax revolves around the wedding scene, where the obvious takes place and the book ends as the sinner repents and the saint is rewarded.

The actual plot line had serious potential; anytime four women feature in a book and are friends, things are bound to get dramatic. This book is however never takes off and is perhaps a reason why chick lit is in demise. The writing is often lazy, refusing to give us anything but a constant commentary of what is going on in the heads of four girls instead of working to show us a little of their world outside, thereby allowing us to see the characters more clearly. The voices of three out of the four could have been easily interchanged and while I commend anyone who can get published, this was a difficult read. I believe even the simplest love story can be a journey filled with wit and drama. Candace Bushnell, Helen Fielding and Sophie Kinsella make you laugh, cry and wanting more.
Courtesy NovelWhore Blog

Long live the intelligent woman's need for romantic fiction! Helen Fielding-- when is your next book coming out? For more fun suggestions see the following posts Reviews|Return of the Chick-Lit

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