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.
A Romeo and Juliet set-up with a class divide built in – he a council estate boy, she living in an over-taxed, under-heated stately home – A Class Act is already off to a fairy-tale-ish start. Add in all kinds of improbable twists and turns (all of which could well, I suppose, happen in real life… but in such harmonious conjunction?) and you have a thoroughly over-the-top, and gloriously enjoyable, piece of escapism.
I must admit that, unlike Lace’s other novels, I found A Class Act hard to get into at first. I am a bit allergic to yoof speak (although I have every sympathy for any author who has to portray a teenage boy), and it took a while for the characters to start growing on me. In fact the heroine, Tilly, is a horrid little madam more or less throughout. That she is so utterly irritating is a tribute to Lace’s powers of description.
But the characters (even Tilly) did grow on me, and in a little while I found myself hopelessly sucked in. The charm of this book isn’t just in the beautifully convoluted plot, although that is a great deal of the fun, but also in Kate Lace’s eye for human fallibility, vice, egoism and plain old bad judgement. There is something particularly appealing about a story in which Fate is not just kindly, but forgiving; and, paradoxically, something particularly realistic about characters who are motivated by love, but mess up anyway.
This is a short review, not because I have little to say, but because I can’t bring myself to give too much away. Suffice it to say that I thoroughly recommend this, or indeed any of Lace’s books, to anyone looking for a good, old-fashioned love story. Because for all the modern technology and gritty social realities, that is precisely what it is.
Little Black Dress, ISBN: 978 0 7553 4794 0