Bodice Rippers & Erotica Book Reviews: Kathy Lette
The Boy who Fell to Earth by Kathy Lette
Read by Tracy in July 2012
Tracy recommends for a great beach read
Lucy is a mid-thirties single mother who has been left to cope with her son, Merlin, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome since he was a baby. Although the subjects under discussion are meaty, there are just way too many one liner quips, it became annoying. It is a fine line as the book could have turned into a serious tome, but the constant delivery of wisecracks and quips made me feel that the characters were rehearsing for a comedy shown. Lucy and her now ex-husband Jeremy had a wonderful romance and when Merlin was born the family was complete with life being perfect, until the diagnosis of Merlins’ autism sees them handle the situation differently. Lucy went from specialist to specialist desarate to find a cure at any cost and Jeremy went back to work and into the arms of a sultry TV-chef. In amongst that we have Jeremy's overly pompous parents who refuse to believe that their grandson can have a learning disability and Lucy's mother and sister. Lucy's mother has taken to the high life since the demise of her husband in the arms of his mistress and is now working through his large life insurance policy by travelling to remote and far flung holiday destinations. Whereas Phoebe (Lucy's sister) is supposed to have the perfect life, but as time goes by her attitude rivals Lucy's and you know there is something happening, but nobody takes the time to ask. After a horrible divorce where Lucy loses out with nearly everything, she not only finds herself a full-time single mother but also full-time teacher and with every waking moment devoted to Merlin and making ends meet, she starts to lose her identity. Luckily her mother and sister come to the rescue and soon sign her up to various dating websites which starts off well, but soon the effervescent and honest Merlin makes some very true but uncomfortably embarrassing discussion points which tended to scare away any prospective long term dates. I wonder if Kathy thought that there were too many ripostes - the odd insight into Lucy's mind reveals she "had been concealing heartbreak beneath wisecracking stoicism.. she had forgotten how to yield; the pleasure to be had in letting go" however this moment of reality didn't last long. I struggled with the one sidedness of people's thoughts - Lucy isn't the only one facing upheaval, it seem everyone is on the edge of their own life changing decisions and unfortunately I felt that there were loads of gaps where instead of some very sarcastic witticisms were delivered, the story may have been deeper if there were a few moments of seriousness. I did laugh at Lucy's list of things she has found to become profoundly irksome: 4x4s (why do you need them to drop children off at school in the city), corporate jargon, loud doomf doomf music, people famous for just being famous and my all-time hate - leaf blowers: get a rake people, most of you need the exercise.
Merlin himself is struggling with trying to find his place in life, bright in some areas but unable to control his emotions or what he says which puts everyone into some hilarious situations. He is unable to read situations and tries so hard it can be heartbreaking to read. No matter how hard he tries in his desperate search for friends nobody is willing to stand up and take him for what he is - until Archie arrives on the scene. Archie is the soon to be ex-husband of Lucy's Australian cousin and her mother gives him Lucy's address so that he has a place to stay until he gets himself organised. He is a musician and has an extremely rough, devil may care attitude but when he protects Archie and this starts to make Lucy see him for something more than a scallywag. Just as their relationship starts to develop, Jeremy turns up on her door wanting to start again. Of course the fact he wants to run for politics and having a loving wife and a disabled child would boost his ratings is by the side. Luckily for Lucy, Jeremy's story starts to unravel and she realises he may just be the worst cad in history.
What Kathy does do well is highlight the inconsistencies in the care arrangements that can be made for children with disabilities, every government department has their own requirements and in the end it is Merlin who is left in the corner of a classroom not being provided any assistance or care. Kathy's own son has Asperger's and this shuffling from social worker to doctor to school you feel is written from personal experience. It is heartbreaking that the only solution to Merlin's school problems appears to be expulsion, although with the total lack of care in the school system, maybe sitting on a street corner would be better. What was also really annoying was why Lucy put so much into finding a husband and more importantly a father for Merlin. I hate that women are shown as being independent and then all of a sudden the only thing to solve all problems is a man - hmm wasn't that her problem in the first place. I have always believed that you must life yourself before someone likes you back.
I am a great fan of Kathy and love her earlier books, but she seems to be falling into the trap of writing the same book over and over again, however, they are still funny with the ability to make you laugh out loud and do put you in a good mood.
Nip 'N' Tuck
Girls Night Out
Read by Tracy 2008 and 2009
Tracy recommends as a hilarious take your mind off your problems read
I read The Llama Parlour, Mad Cows, Foetal Attraction, Altar Ego and Dead Sexy in one long weekend to Bali lazing by the pool. I couldn't help but just lie there chuckling to myself. So perfect holiday reading. There is nothing deep and meaningful but when on holidays you don't want to be solving the world's crisis.
All the books involve the escapades of a lead character and how they fall into and out of trouble. Lette's first book was Puberty Blues which made her an icon of Australian literature with her recreations of the surfie lifestyle. Go back and rewatch the film, it will make you cringe but you will realise that she is also a great descriptive writer of the times. Going back and looking at the books I have read, I am now keen to catch up on Lette's newer books for some light hearted fun.
Check out Kathy Lette's website.