Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

The Trophy Girl, by Kate Lace (with a giveaway)

trophygirlWe have one free copy of The Trophy Girl to give away to some lucky reader!  If you’d like to enter the draw, please go beep beep in the comments.

Of the new books I read in 2008, The Trophy Girl stands out as a surprise discovery.  I have to admit that given the premise – a class-divide romance involving, yes, an aristocratic widower and a working class girl (a nanny, no less!) – the best I was hoping for was a “trashy” read, something I could muddle through with.

The cover certainly didn’t give me any indication I should expect otherwise.  The standard blurb (“Lucy Carter has just landed her dream job as a nanny…”); the cutesy, rather condescending tagline from the publishing house (“Pick up a Little Black Dress.  It’s a girl thing.”); the line from Elle magazine referencing Sex and the City… and worst of all, the list of other Little Black Dress titles in the back.  Handbags and Homicide.  Blue Remembered Heels.  Hysterical Blondeness?!  Really?   (These may be perfectly fine publications, for all I know.  But the titles make a terrible, terrible impression.)

But I’d promised to read The Trophy Girl, and I was fairly sure there were horses in it.  So I heaved a sigh and opened the damn thing.  Next thing I knew, it was far too late to be reading and I was telling myself strictly that I must stop at the end of this chapter.  Well, OK, the next chapter.  Or maybe I could just keep reading until I found out about the story behind that bizarre room at Arden Hall… and the whistle… and… you get the idea.

You see, what I did not bargain for was Kate Lace’s extraordinary gift for storytelling.  Her prose is thankfully free of purple passages, forced trendiness, hyperbole and the various other things that tend to plague chicklit writers.  Her narrator, Lucy, tells us her story in clear and simple language with more than a touch of wry humour.  Above all, the narrative retains a strong sense of proportion.  There’s an element of slapstick humour, but without idiocy; romance, without outright obsession; self-deprecation, without self-flagellation; sentiment, without sentimentality.  Lace plays with stereotypes (having particular fun with the upper clarsses), but doesn’t fall back on the lazy chicklit author’s strategy of substituting cliché for characterisation.  Everything in moderation; everything in its place.

All this makes The Trophy Girl into a genuinely enjoyable piece of escapism.  There’s absolutely no pretention to blistering social comedy or modern everywoman drama; there’s not so much a whisper of lifestyle porn.  It is simply a story – an unlikely, but ancient story – told well.

My only substantial criticism of this story is that the resolution is overly hasty, as if Lace were writing an exam essay and had only five minutes left on the clock.  Having followed the development of a particularly complicated and difficult issue – and one demanding an extremely hard decision from the heroine – throughout most of the novel, the speed and ease with which it is all wrapped up is a little jarring.

Overall, though, The Trophy Girl is one of the most easy and enjoyable things I have read in a very long time.  I recommend it highly.

If you like the sound of this lovely little novel, dear readers, all you have to do is pipe up in the comments by the close of play on Saturday the 17th of January and a copy could be yours!

42 comments on “The Trophy Girl, by Kate Lace (with a giveaway)

  1. Violet
    January 9, 2009

    Sounds good. I have seen too many Bollywood movies with the class divide theme. It would be interesting to read it in a book :)

    Please enter me!!!

    P.S: You know ‘forced trendiness’ were the exact words I was looking for while reading a chick lit recently…nice review

  2. Debs Carr
    January 9, 2009

    Me too, please.

    I loved reading Kate Lace’s other books, so would love to have a copy of this one.

  3. Teresa
    January 9, 2009

    Your chick lit post a few months back got me interested in Kate Lace, but my library doesn’t have any of her books. Please enter me in the giveaway–I’d love the chance to give her work a try!

  4. Meg89 @ Literary Menagerie
    January 9, 2009

    beep beep!

    Sounds like a good book, thanks for the giveaway!

  5. Claire A
    January 9, 2009

    Beep beep, beep beep, yeah!

    Sounds awesome. x

  6. Anne Brooke
    January 9, 2009

    Sounds one to read for sure – beep beep!!

    Still laughing …

    :))

    Axxx

  7. rosyb
    January 9, 2009

    This is a lovely review. I really have to read some Kate Lace as VL seems like a virtual fanclub of her books! I would beep beep only I think I’m disqualified from beep beeping. :(

  8. Hilary
    January 9, 2009

    Well, I do like Little Black Dresses (to read, my days of wearing anything little are over), but this one sounds like a best of breed! I must read it after this beautifully reasoned review.

    You make the ending sound like North and South! Kate Lace must have had the 21st century version of Dickens breathing down her neck.

  9. Lisa
    January 9, 2009

    Lovely review, Kirsty. It is wonderful when a book grabs you like that.

    Beeeeeep. Oh, I know. Bookfoxes not allowed. Pah.

  10. lizzysiddal
    January 9, 2009

    beep beep!

  11. Michelle
    January 9, 2009

    It sounds like a lovely book – please add my name to the draw!
    Michelle.

  12. Kate Lace
    January 9, 2009

    Kirsty, you did make me laugh! But maybe your enjoyment was because you were expecting something truly dire. For once I am so glad I didn’t live up to expectations!
    Kate

  13. kirstyjane
    January 9, 2009

    Ha ha! You don’t get away that easy, Ms. Lace – I really enjoyed the story. And as you know, I am not generally very partial to Earls (Melrose Plant aside). I liked Edward though – although having watched The Dark Knight too much recently I couldn’t be rid of the conviction that he must look like Aaron Eckhart. I don’t know if that’s anywhere near your vision of the man.

    The cover of this book was definitely misleading…

  14. Moira
    January 9, 2009

    Blue Remembered Heels.

    I wish I’d thought of that …

  15. Kate Lace
    January 9, 2009

    I rather like my covers as they’re all so similar – I get a sort of brand image. And anyway, I’m not intellectual so their simplicity appeals to me. (You’ve probably worked out that I don’t do deep and meaningful.) And you’re right about the ending. (Note to self – do better next time!)

    As for how Edward looks – someone I had a bit of a pash on when I was in the army.

  16. Jackie
    January 9, 2009

    An amusing review of a book that sounds enjoyable. Plus, now I’m curious about the whistle…

  17. Carol M
    January 9, 2009

    beep beep!

    I’ve never read any of Kate’s books but after reading your review, I want to read The Trophy Girl! Thank you!
    mittens0831 AT aol.com

  18. kirstyjane
    January 9, 2009

    I do like the simplicity of the design – it’s all the marketing stuff that gave quite a different impression. I should have a look at more of LBD’s stuff to see what is behind those interesting titles. really.

    Pash is such a lovely word.

  19. Linda
    January 9, 2009

    The last couple of “chick lit” novels I tried to read have nearly put me off chick lit altogether. I’d love to read a really GOOD example of the genre. Please enter me in the giveaway. Thanks, and beep, beep.

  20. ABB
    January 9, 2009

    Beep beep! Sounds like a rather lovely oldtimer VW Beetle rally here.

    Does sound like a jolly good read. Have to admit though, I would not pick it up expecting it to be chick-lit, based on the cover.

    (Blue Remembered Heels? Is that some strange take on Wizard of Oz? No. I’m definitely not ‘getting’ it.)

  21. Kate Lace
    January 9, 2009

    ‘Pash is such a lovely word’

    That’s the thing about being a romantic novelist, we have heaps of words for blokes we fancy! And some of them are rather old-fashioned but we can do profane too. Actually I can do VERY profane but that’s where 8 years in the army gets you!

    Kate

  22. Ken
    January 10, 2009

    beep beep

  23. Arkana
    January 10, 2009

    i wonder if someone with too much wisdom can write a chicklit.. would she be lying to herself if she wrote about sentimental romance when she believes it only happens in fairy tales but does so for the sheer joy of construing delightful fantasies?

    and yeah, beep beep

  24. Katie Fforde
    January 10, 2009

    Ooh, this sounds good enough to actually buy, folks! Loved Chalet Girl after all.

  25. Lesley Cookman
    January 10, 2009

    I loved Chalet Girl, too – and I’ve already bought Trophy Girl, although it sits on the TBR pile at the moment to be savoured at the right time.

  26. Sarie
    January 10, 2009

    Sounds great – beep beep!

  27. Patty
    January 10, 2009

    Beep beep!
    Please enter me in the draw. Thanks.

    Patty

  28. mindy
    January 10, 2009

    sounds spectacular thanks for the giveaway

  29. Kim Fenner
    January 10, 2009

    Sounds like a great book.

  30. Julie Stewart
    January 10, 2009

    This sounds like a great book. Thanks for the giveaway!

  31. kim v
    January 11, 2009

    Looks like a great read.
    kimspam66(at)yahoo(dot)com

  32. adevotedreader
    January 11, 2009

    I’d love to enter the giveaway, as a good chicklit read is hard to find.

  33. Sue Moorcroft
    January 11, 2009

    It IS a great book – the best of the three of Kate Lace’s LBD’s in my opinion. I won’t enter the draw as I own the book already but would like to say that Kate’s books were an oasis for me through a very sticky Christmas period.

  34. Sue Moorcroft
    January 11, 2009

    And PS, if your library doesn’t stock Kate’s books they will normally order them for you for a reasonable fee – £1 in my library.

  35. Judy Jarvie
    January 11, 2009

    Beep Beep, if I don’t win I’ll definitely buy it. I’ve loved all Kate Lace books to date, must buys!

  36. Christina Brunetti
    January 11, 2009

    I would love to read this.

    Thanks

  37. Sheila
    January 12, 2009

    Sounds like a great read, please count me in!

  38. Francine A
    January 12, 2009

    Thanks for the giveaway. Beep Beep :)

  39. K. Cleaver
    January 13, 2009

    Great review. I would love to read it too.

  40. EmmaB
    January 13, 2009

    me too. beep beep!

  41. Moira
    January 18, 2009

    Right. The deed is done.

    With slight pause for dramatic effect, a dramatic drum roll and a quick “Tah-Dah!”, we’re delighted to announce that PATTY’s name was the first out of the hat this morning.

    Congratulations to her and thank you to everyone else for taking part.

    Patty – we’re emailing you … :)

  42. Patty
    January 18, 2009

    Wow!
    Thank you all the foxes :)

    I’m looking forward to reading it.

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This entry was posted on January 9, 2009 by in Entries by Kirsty, Fiction: romance, Fiction: women's and tagged , , , .

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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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