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.
We 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!