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Sadomasochism for Accountants by Rosy Barnes + Giveaway

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We have a most exciting change to the schedule today. Novelist, poet and blogger, Anne Brooke, has given us a review of a new comedy novel penned by our very own Rosy Barnes!

When 38 year old Paula is rejected by her accountant boyfriend, Alan, for being too dull, she decides that drastic measures are required in order to win him back. Spying on Alan and his new girlfriend, the psychotic Belinda, gets her nowhere so she decides to change her image at the local S&M haunt, Club Liscious. The eclectic range of people she meets there change her life, but will it regain Alan’s affections?

I must say this book has one of the best first lines I’ve seen anywhere. The moment I read the words, “Paula did not really consider herself to be a stalker.”, I knew I’d be in for an interesting ride with an author who would take me to places I hadn’t expected to go. And, on the whole, the places prove to be the larger-than-life characters who inhabit Barnes’ world; this is most definitely a novel of character and the interaction between characters rather than of plot. In fact, in many ways the plot doesn’t matter too much – at times it even drifts away, or the characters decide they’ll do something else instead or change their minds entirely. It is how the characters react, and what they do – or don’t do – that counts.

That said, it’s a slow start, and I think the novel suffers a little here. Once we get to the Club (p84 in my edition), we shift up a gear, mainly due to the wonderful people Paula is about to meet – you can’t fail to be gripped by a beefy transvestite called Luda, a kind-hearted dominatrix or a naked Man in a Mask. Amongst others. And if you do fail, then I would suggest that really this isn’t the sort of book you should be reading at all … They are in fact so good that my personal view is that they should have been introduced into the mix far, far sooner than they are. Interestingly, when my own Pink Champagne and Apple Juice (comedy set in a gay nightclub, a factor which may well explain why VL asked me to review Rosy’s novel of course! …) was being edited, I was asked to remove the whole explanatory baggage of Chapter One and get my heroine Angie into The Den Nightclub as soon as humanly possible. In the end, I started the novel with Chapter Two. No-one’s ever noticed, and it at least means Angie gets to the nightclub on p13. Here I would have liked to see a whole lot more of Club Liscious before it actually arrives.

Of course, I can understand the other side of the argument: Paula is such a quiet, understated heroine, and at the start one driven to dramatic acts only through desperation and loneliness, that there’s a danger of her being subsumed by the glamour of those Club members (I use that word advisedly) who become her friends. Later, on occasions this does become the case, particularly where a major set scene is being enacted by Luda and her colourful set on Paula’s behalf. Remaining with Paula for a while, I did actually enjoy the fact that when changes occur in Paula’s mindset, they are subtle and slow – at the very end of the book she does something she would never have dared to do at the start, but she doesn’t change her character so much that it would be unbelievable. It’s a totally delicious moment and a fabulous and romantic end to the novel. Indeed, throughout most of the story, achingly normal Paula is in essence an Every(wo)man type of figure whose purpose is to act as a contrast to those who are less “normal”, but happier with themselves. The dichotomy (oh how I’ve always longed to use that word in a review, and thank you, Rosy, for giving me the opportunity to do so) of what’s socially acceptable and what isn’t is constantly before us, which is no bad thing. In Club Liscious, the bizarre is everyday and the average is frowned upon – it certainly made me think about what I question and what I don’t. Then again, I’m not sure I know any normal characters, and I’ve certainly not written about any – much – so I’m probably no guide.

However, the odd and deeply strange side of Paula is why on earth she should be so passionately in love with Alan at all. Speaking as a woman married to an accountant (and a very inspirational one at that, naturally), I was interested to see what Alan would be like and I have to say that sadly I wasn’t vastly taken with him. I would have grabbed the nearest spreadsheet and shoved it where the sun don’t shine, or run to the hills yelling with relief that he’d dumped me but then again there’s no logic in love. But he is really rather dull – I think we needed to feel more sympathy towards him if we were going to be 100% committed to Paula’s initial mission to regain his affections. If he’d been portrayed with more sexiness and sympathy, or at least kindness, then I think the story would have been more colourful at this point.

I also didn’t much like the dreadful Belinda – a thoroughly nasty piece of work – and yes I understand that I’m meant to hate her with the quality of venom normally reserved for the wicked witch in the pantomime, but I think I would have preferred either to have hated her with more gusto and for her to be stylishly wicked, or for there to be some sense of humanity in her steely white bosom. Mind you, she and Alan deserve each other – I just wish Paula could have seen this sooner. Then again, Paula wouldn’t have had half as much fun as she does or we do if she’d seen sense earlier, so I can’t complain.

Meanwhile, I mustn’t forget to talk about the set scenes. On the whole they are excellently done here – you can see the lights and hear the music (virtually speaking) very clearly. It’s very filmic indeed and this adds to that larger-than-life feel to the work. I particularly enjoyed Paula’s abortive foray into interactive art, and Belinda’s first and last dramatic entry to the Club. More please. The only time where it doesn’t quite work is during Alan’s night out with the lads which probably has way too much talking for a real accountants’ get-together. In my experience.

Finally, I couldn’t write a review without saying that Club Liscious is a great portrayal of an S&M club – or what I imagine one would be like. It’s brave, sassy, vivid and loud. And I loved every peculiar utterly charming inch of it. I will certainly never see noses in the same way again. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the Club is a fabulous main character and it’s wonderful to see how it changes the lives of the people who come up against it. Those who mould themselves into its strange siren song prosper but those who fight it don’t. A message to us all, perhaps? In the meantime, buy this novel, read it and be prepared to think differently as a result.

Anne Brooke

http://www.annebrooke.com
http://annebrooke.blogspot.com

Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd, ISBN-13: 978-0714531816, 384 pages, £8,99.

For a chance to win a copy of Sadomasochism for Accountants, simply make yourself known to us in the comments section below. You might like to weave into your comment the words ‘fetish club’ or ‘penguin-loving geek’ or even ‘whip’… or perhaps not.  ‘Pip pip’ will be accepted too. Results will be announced on Sunday 6th Feb.

——-

You can visit RosyB’s website here and if you are very ingenious you may even find a few carefully-hidden excerpts to read.

About annebrooke

Anne Brooke lives in Surrey, UK, and writes in a variety of genres, including gay erotic romance, fantasy, comedy, thrillers, biblical fiction and the occasional chicklit novel. When not writing, she spends time in the garden attempting to differentiate between flowers and weeds, and in the allotment attempting to grow vegetables. Occasionally, she can also be found in the kitchen making cakes. Every now and again, they are edible. Her websites can be found at: www.annebrooke.com, www.gayreads.co.uk, www.biblicalfiction.co.uk and www.gathandria.com (for fantasy fiction).

42 comments on “Sadomasochism for Accountants by Rosy Barnes + Giveaway

  1. fiona robyn
    February 3, 2009

    Yes please!

  2. Moira
    February 3, 2009

    I must rise in defence of Alan! I’d grown quite fond of him by the end of the book.

    I thought the unhinged Belinda’s line on arrival at Club Liscious was absolutely priceless. I made the mistake of having a mouthful of tea at the time.

    Messy.

    But yes … noses. They’ll never be quite the same again.

  3. d.z. bodenberg
    February 3, 2009

    “Pip-pip”? I am clearly not (thankfully?) well-enough acquainted with either accountancy or the s/m scene. But as I only managed to have an idea on 8 of the 10 Trotsky-related questions (yellow shoes!) and therefore didn’t send a response, I’ll try my luck here and am therefore now longer just a lurking reader, but a commenting one as well…

  4. d.z. bodenberg
    February 3, 2009

    And that should read “no longer”, obviously.

  5. Caroline Rance
    February 3, 2009

    Can’t wait to read this! I’m going to say “whip-whip” instead of pip-pip.

  6. clom
    February 3, 2009

    Pip, the penguin-loving geek had a whip-round to finance the opening of his new fetish club!

  7. Louise
    February 3, 2009

    I too have to jump to Alan & Belinda’s defence. Alan is in the classic mould of hopelessly misguided & doomed comic character, like Basil Fawlty. Fuelled by his hubris, he just gets himself further and further into the mire. His mysterious communications with the hippy tree throw just enough possible humanity to him to make him almost redeemable. And it’s that tension which creates the drama, and probably Paula’s original love. Belinda, on the other had is pretty unredeemable. But I have to applaud this wonderful subversion of woman’s goal in romantic fiction being a wedding. Belinda is an uber-bridezilla concerned with all the petty, competitive aspects of her wedding. Meanwhile Paula is going on this beautifully romantic journey of her own. It’s a really nice juxtaposition.

    This novel made me laugh. A lot. And it says an awful lot about women and men. That’s a powerful combination.

  8. rosyb
    February 3, 2009

    Goodness Anne, thank you for such a long and detailed review.

    I have to say that I spat my own cuppa (coffee in this case) over:

    “I would have grabbed the nearest spreadsheet and shoved it where the sun don’t shine”

    I think Lisa would be in agreement with you there! She said she wanted to kick Alan’s head in. It’s funny, he provokes some rather different reactions from people. I think the thing was that I started off loathing and detesting him myself – he kind of stood for everything I wanted to criticise and lampoon…and then, after spending a whole book with him, I ended up feeling sort of fond (yes yes, I know) of the guy – in a Moira sort of way. I have to admit he was my absolute favourite character to write. Poor Alan: nobody loves you :(

    I think, though, I must argue with the point about him being more sexy. No no no! British comedy characters must never be sexy, surely? American ones, maybe, but not in this country!

    It’s interesting to read your take on it. So glad you liked the club and I was very interested in your comments about its centralness and seeing it as a main character. For me the club world is partly there to show up the other world and the values of the status-obsessed individuals in respectable secure established positions – and all the judgment of others, pettiness and snobbery that can entail. (I must quickly point out I know some lovely accountants and Lord H sounds like a wonderful example of the lovely variety…but…but…) So for me the club is not so much the main character as a kind of mirror. (Ooo that’s sounds a bit pretentious, doesn’t it. But if people are going to go bandying terms like “dichotomy” and “hubris” around these parts, I’m bloody well going to join in.)

    Where was I? Oh yes – how differently people read it. Like there’s the whole geek thing too (which is yet another world in the book). As many of my friends are going out with geeks or ARE geeks themselves – a lot of them really go for the geek stuff…but I’ve found that whole area of the book has a very varied response as whilst some people are yelling “I KNOW someone just like that!” not everyone knows what on earth I’m talking about and wondering why I am writing about people who sound like they have the classic psychological profile of a serial killer. (When in fact they are just shy.)

    (On a completely unrelated note, my boyfriend found this wonderful online test where you are shown 10 pics of serial killers and 10 pics of high-achieving geeks and you have to work out which they are. He picked 8 of the geeks to be the killers. And he’s a geek! Tsk.)

  9. annebrooke
    February 3, 2009

    Ooh, hubris! I don’t think I managed to squeeze that word in, dammit, Rosy!! Ah well … So very thoroughly enjoyed the read, btw – it’s a book that certainly makes me think. It’s great to see so many different views on it too – always a sign of genius in a novel of course!

    On a (not very) related note, Lord H and I were watching a programme many years ago on how to recognise a serial killer and we gradually realised that he of course has all the classic signs: a loner; from a split (very split!) family; quiet; in the professions; etc etc. So if you ever hear tell that I’ve been found with an axe in my head, you know who to look for first!!

    :))

    Axxx

  10. Charlotte
    February 3, 2009

    Ooooh whip whip for me too!

    Sounds like an absolutely fascinating read Rosy/Anne – I can’t wait to get my paws on a copy. Best of luck with it x

  11. Violet
    February 3, 2009

    Pip pip. Will that do :)

    Please enter me…

  12. kirstyjane
    February 3, 2009

    Pip p… damn. Not eligible am i?

    This novel sounds hilarious! I’m really looking forward to reading it.

  13. Luisa
    February 3, 2009

    I read this review with half an eye because I desperately want to read the book and I don’t want to read the review first, but it was so tempting…

    I’ll be back to read properly at a later date!

    In the meantime, pip-pip to the penguin-loving geek in the fetish club with the whip. Or rather, please would you enter me into this draw, kind foxes?

  14. Lisa
    February 3, 2009

    The geek sections were my favourite parts of the book. I also loved Luda the transvestite and Gretchen the dominatrix. Belinda was indeed a fearsome Bridezilla. I’d say she’s a great parody of the most irritating kind of bride-to-be. So irritating, in fact, that at times it’s almost too much to bear. I only really came to enjoy Belinda’s presence in the big finale scene, and that was because she was gloriously revealed as a total nutjob beneath the waspish, nicely-heeled surface.

    Alan Alan Alan. I suppose Alan’s relationship with the tree demonstrates a nicer side of him, but ultimately, yes, I loathed him. And he was a bit wimpy about the tree. I felt the tree warranted more of a defence. And as for his appalling treatment of Paula, well… But then I suppose people do fall for idiots who treat them badly, and if it’s a friend (or indeed a character in a novel), you’re dying for them to wake up and see the light. In this case I was dying to reach into the novel and wring Alan’s neck. But perhaps this is because I felt such affection for a certain penguin-loving geek…

    I think my favourite scene was a certain ‘geek out dating’ adventure but all the geek stuff was utterly fantastic. Oh, and Pat’s character developed in a very interesting way…

    All in all I felt that the writing was very strong and the characterisations vivid. I think that explains why certain characters made me so hot under the collar. Because you’re so sucked into the narrative, you want them to make the right choices and not be miserable.

    As much as I hated Alan, I felt that the book dealt with him very nicely indeed :)

    I’m sure this is a book that will polarise readers to some extent. I think we’re all likely to pick out characters that we empathise with (and others that we want to throttle) and perhaps that’s inevitable when we’re dealing with a book that has such a massive cast of characters. I wouldn’t say this is one of those ‘one woman’s quest for love in the face of adversity’ stories because I don’t think it’s just Paula’s story. To me it’s more like a group journey. A group of vastly different and colourful individuals interacting with a quiet but determined woman who shakes them up without even meaning to. Paula is like a catalyst, I was thinking as I was reading it.

    Anyhow, thank you so much for the review, Anne. Oh, and good luck to the pip-pippers. Sadomasochism for Accountants is definitely a book that gets into a reader’s head and stays there.

  15. Sam
    February 3, 2009

    This sounds fabulous, Rosy! And what a great review, Anne!

    x

  16. Sam
    February 3, 2009

    pip pip pip btw – put me in the draw:)

  17. Emma
    February 3, 2009

    Pip pip pip… Sounds wonderful! And a great review, Anne.

    Rosy, yes, I have characters who I start out disliking, and end up loving, in an exasperated sort of way.

    I think it’s because to write them convincingly you have to understand them, and comprendre tous, c’est pardonner tous.

  18. Eva
    February 3, 2009

    Whip-whip from me too! And some hot chocolate for those initiated!!

  19. Sam
    February 3, 2009

    Best of luck with it, Snowy! Looking forward to buying a copy in the next few weeks.

  20. Tris
    February 3, 2009

    whip whip please :)

  21. Sally
    February 3, 2009

    I used to live with a penguin-fan, am dating a geek and have actually been to a fetish club as support for a friend (at which said friend overheard two rubber-clad men conversing seriously about their careers in Sales.)
    Put me in the hat too, please!

  22. Nik Perring
    February 3, 2009

    Sounds terrific – looking forward to having me a read!

    Nik

  23. Jackie
    February 4, 2009

    Wow, what a discussion in between all the variations of pips, it lent it a surreal sort of air. Now I’m really curious about this book, the characters seem well drawn & relatable & the whole thing sounds entertaining. I’m going to see if I can reserve it at my local library.

  24. Rosy Thornton
    February 4, 2009

    I can’t wait for my copy to arrive!

  25. Susie Nott-Bower
    February 4, 2009

    Now this makes me really want to read the book, Rosy. Sounds like just my kind of thing.
    If you don’t choose me, I will staple myself to the nearest arras and instruct five large men to alternately whip me with a cat o’nine tails and whisper feathers over my tingling skin.
    Actually, I might do that anyway…
    Congratulations!
    Susiex

  26. BeckyC
    February 4, 2009

    Pip-whip-pip (just to ring the changes). Sounds most intriguing and I can’t wait to read the real thing!

    Steady on there, Susie…

  27. Pingback: How to…Choose a Suitable “Fiction” Title « Rosyb’s Weblog

  28. swerdnic
    February 5, 2009

    I’d be very Shpankful if you put me in for the draw!
    Shpankyou very much.
    Lx

  29. Stewart
    February 5, 2009

    Results will be announced on Sunday 6th Feb.

    I feel duty bound (as a pedant) to point out tha the next Sunday 6th Feb is in 2011. :-D

  30. Moira
    February 5, 2009

    It gives the sluggards lots of time to get their dibs in, Stewart … :mrgreen:

  31. NaomiM
    February 6, 2009

    My own personal ‘geek’ said anything that included a ‘pengiun’ ‘fetish’ had to be good, so I’ve had a ‘whip’ round and joined the Amazon-buying ‘club’ and hopefully my copy will be winging it’s way to me in due course.

    What did I miss out?

    Oh, and, I’m ‘loving’ it, ‘pip pip’.

  32. mindy
    February 6, 2009

    you really “whipped” this contest into shape thanks for the giveaway

  33. kim v
    February 6, 2009

    Pip pip,
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    kimspam66(at)yahoo(dot)com

  34. Christine
    February 6, 2009

    I only regret that I don’t have time to whip through all of the other posts before I post this one. Just how many ways are there to use the phrase “penguin-loving geek” in a comment on a book “about” accountants? Let me count the ways . . . Seriously though, as a tax professional in the US during tax season, anything that has anything funny to say about accountants or those who love them, obsess about them or escape them in fetish clubs is ok by me.

    I enjoyed the review. I admire Anne Brooke’s ability to be honest and critical without being mean and the book sounds like a hoot.

  35. rosyb
    February 6, 2009

    Err…Oh I added the Sunday 6th of Feb in.

    Umm. Day after tomorrow, then. (I’m terrible with dates.)

  36. Judith VanAlphen
    February 6, 2009

    As a “penguin-loving geek” myself and it is whip whip tax time I can use a laugh.

  37. Becky
    February 6, 2009

    I am indeed a penguin-loving geek. I recently purchased a shirt that has a line of penguins with a disguised bunny (using a carrot as a beak) blending in with the penguins. Soooo cute! Thank you for offering this giveaway! eyeslikesugar [at] gmail [dot] com

  38. Christina Brunetti
    February 7, 2009

    I would love to read this.

    Thanks!

  39. Debi
    February 8, 2009

    Go, Rosy! Can’t wait to get my grubby little paws on a copy …

  40. RosyB
    February 8, 2009

    Thank you so much for the good wishes, everyone, and for entering the draw. As so many people entered we decided to give out two signed copies rather than just the one.

    The draw has taken place with the winners drawn from one of the many small “useful” bowls kept by my mother in her kitchen. Herself and The Geek did the honours. And the winners are…da da da da

    Christina Brunetti and Caroline Rance!

    Congrats. I will email you shortly and the copies will be winging their way to you very soon.

  41. Caroline Rance
    February 10, 2009

    Thank you very much, Rosy! Looking forward to reading.

  42. Pingback: Things Hotting Up « Rosyb’s Weblog

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