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.
I don’t know what the Lake District mountain rescue teams made of this first novel by Phillipa Ashley (and I’m sure some of them wouldn’t have been able to resist at least taking a peek …) but I can’t imagine any of them exactly bristled with disapproval at the book’s portrayal of the breed.
It’s not heavyweight literature, but it’s none the worse for that, because the cover tells you pretty much exactly what to expect – an entertaining story, well told with good humour.
The narrative centres on Emma Tremayne, a city girl who escapes to the depths of the Lake District hoping for some peace and quiet. She ends up fund-raising for the local mountain rescue team and comes up with the not too original idea of a nude calendar featuring the team members (I think I could have phrased that better – but never mind). There is some resistance – particularly from “Mr July” …
The plot development from there on in is fairly predictable, but has enough unexpected little twists to keep the reader slightly off balance and constantly entertained. The characters are likeable and believable and the author produces an entirely authentic sketch of a small Lakeland community, including the mountain rescue team. The vivid description of Our Heroine frozen with terror in the middle of an abseil is worth the price of the book all by itself.
Decent Exposure has no pretensions. It achieves exactly sets out to do … it’s funny and feel-good, with a splash of sex for good measure. The sex is, incidentally, very well written (an ability that many, more famous, authors are conspicuously lacking) and an integral part of the plot, not just grafted on for a bit of gratuitous titillation.
If you want to be entertained on a long train journey, or are looking for something undemanding to read at the end of a long day, Decent Exposure ticks all the boxes. It’s no surprise at all to learn that it earned its author the Romantic Novelists’ Association “New Writers’ Award” in 2007.
Little Black Dress, Headline Books. 2006. 277pp. ISBN-10: 7553364612.