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.

Passion by Louise Bagshawe

Passion

When Passion – all 535 pages of it –  thudded onto my doormat last year I thought, “How jolly tiresome. It has LOTS of pages.”  (Oh, all right.  That’s NOT a verbatim transcription of what I thought, but the unexpurgated version would shatter forever my carefully cultivated image of being a Genteel Person.)  I needn’t have worried my pretty little head about it though, because it turned out to be in one-and-a-half line spacing and LARGE PRINT.  That’s twenty-six lines per page and an average of eight words to a line.  It’s the size of print I was reading when I was about five years old – except of course, I wasn’t reading words like ‘fucker’ and ‘whore’.

Memo to Headline Review – Please don’t do it.  You’re not going to convince anyone that this is a  blockbuster.  It’s just plain silly – not to mention being a terrible waste of paper.

The presentation of the book is not, of course, the author’s fault.  The plot, however, is – and unfortunately it’s just plain silly too.

It involves a pair of star-crossed lovers (natch).   One is the bent-out-of-shape-by-thwarted-true-love Will Hyde who attempts to salve his broken heart by becoming fabulously wealthy and a secret agent, not necessarily in that order.   The other is the bent-out-of-shape-by–thwarted-true-love-and-controlling-parents Melissa Elmet who buries herself in academia, becoming a tragically frumpy Research Fellow at Oxford.  She gets engaged to the worthy Fraser, thinks better of it and is just in the process of dumping him when he conveniently has his head blown apart on Magdalen Bridge  by the sexy-but-ice-cold Karelian hit-woman Lola Montoya.  Really.  He does.

Will realizes that Melissa was the real target and comes gallumphing to her aid, whisking her off to a secret location in a fabulously opulent hotel where we’re treated to a whole page telling us how fabulously opulent it is, and therefore how fabulously wealthy Will is.  Once there, and contemplating her dodgy future, Melissa realizes that whilst pointlessly whiling away her life being a successful and respected Research Fellow at Oxford (did I mention that already?) she’d let herself go terribly to seed.   You know – the old whipcord muscle had sagged a bit and the hair was looking a tad  lacklustre …  In fact, Will was thinking much the same thing himself – “Gone a bit to seed.  Hair a tad lacklustre.  Don’t fancy HER much anymore”.  Still, Melissa has time on her hands, some hair colourant in her bag and a nice selection of gym equipment handy;  so in no time at all she’s match fit, absolutely gorgeous and Will fancies her something rotten again, so that’s okay.  Who needs a poxy research fellowship when you’ve got a hot bloke?

Cue breathless chase across Europe in pursuit of a truly daft MacGuffin – after which they live happily ever after.

In Israel.

Sigh.

I know it’s supposed to be undemanding and lightweight.   I know I’m not the target readership.  I know thousands of women buy, consume and presumably enjoy Louise Bagshawe’s books.  I know it has to be judged for what it is – a piece of foolish escapism designed to while away an afternoon on the beach – but even so,  this book really rather depressed me.  Not because it sold in truckloads and made pots of money.  Not even because it had pink sparkly bits on the cover.  No, it depressed me because it was so ludicrously readable – and THAT’s because Louise Bagshawe can write.  I mean REALLY write.

I felt like whacking her over the back of the head with it and saying, “Very funny.  Now go and write a PROPER book.”

Headline Review.  2009.  ISBN: 978-0-7553-3610-4.  535pp.

16 comments on “Passion by Louise Bagshawe

  1. annebrooke
    May 6, 2010

    Fabulous, Moira! That’s cheered me up on election day. I feel I’ll give this one a miss then until she writes a proper book …

    🙂

    Axxx

  2. Melrose
    May 6, 2010

    I always give books with pink sparkly bits a miss, so I suppose it is one way of reaching your target audience, and helping us non-pink-sparklies to save a bit of time picking a nice bit of fiction to read…

  3. kirstyjane
    May 6, 2010

    *wipes away tears of laughter*

    Oh my. What a wonderful review, Moira. Just the thing for election day! Utterly fantastic. And yes, my Ladybird readers didn’t include that sort of language either.

    Of course, Ms. Bagshawe has already made a little speech at Vulpes Libris. At risk of breaking the rules on plugging in comments, it’s the tenth comment on this here piece:

    https://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/louise-bagshawe-and-the-unlikely-manifesto/

  4. The Literary Omnivore
    May 6, 2010

    I refer to books like these- fluffy little bonbons that are almost frustratingly readable- as unadulterated crack. I feel the same way about the Gossip Girl books- absolutely no redeeming value, but somehow you end up reading a handful of them.

  5. Alison M.
    May 6, 2010

    Blimey! I’m going to be especially careful cycling home over Magdalen Bridge tonight.

  6. Moira
    May 6, 2010

    You’ll be fine as long as you remember to zig-zag, Alison …

  7. Nikki
    May 6, 2010

    You didn’t half make me giggle! This sounds absolutely awful, but I’ve got to admit… I’m tempted.

  8. Jackie
    May 6, 2010

    This was a hilarious review! Had me laughing all through it. Sounds like someone has watched one too many James Bond films & decided to try her own hand at it.
    And why do women perpetuate the cliche of having a frumpy woman get a make-over BEFORE she catches the man? It’s bad enough that male writers cannot accept women as they really look(while saying someone who looks like Tony Soprano is a chick magnet), but why must women fall in with the brainwashing too?

  9. Hilary
    May 6, 2010

    Moira, the whole review is a triumph, but the point at which I thought I might have a seizure was through the mad hilarity and mental contortions caused by ‘Karelian hit-woman Lola Montoya’. Was that holy writ The Princess Bride’ knocking at the door of our author’s subconscious, I wonder?

    Actually, my impossible dream is having a super-rich, super-buff man to throw over in favour of a research fellowship at Oxford. Call me perverse ….

  10. annebrooke
    May 6, 2010

    Jackie – I agree. I’d like to see a whole new genre where the frumpy woman (FW for short) wins out every time. After all, we in the UK have a great role-model in Camilla – we should use it!

    🙂

    Axxx

  11. SamRuddock
    May 7, 2010

    Sounds positively ghastly. Though your review didn’t half make me smile.

    Ms Bagshawe is now an MP. I’m seriously worried by this.

  12. Kate Lace
    May 7, 2010

    I do love your reviews Moira, made me chuckle this morning, which, considering how late I stayed up last night was no mean feat. And now Louise is MP for Corby she may not have time to write a proper book, which would be a shame.

  13. Moira
    May 7, 2010

    It would indeed, Kate … And good luck to her – she’s going to need it. (Even though it’s totally beyond me why anyone would WANT to be an MP and I think they should all be kept at a safe distance with electric cattle prods …)

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  16. mojtaba
    November 27, 2016

    great review.
    I always give books with pink sparkly bits a miss

    دوربین عکاسی

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This entry was posted on May 6, 2010 by in Entries by Moira, Fiction: 21st Century, Fiction: romance, Fiction: women's and tagged , , , .

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