Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Book review : RSVP - Helen Warner

You can't judge a book by its cover but just one look at the jacket of RSVP with its hearts and flowers (literally), doves and glasses of champagne and you know this is going to be classic chicklit. Sure enough, right from the off, we discover tales of love and heartbreak, friendship and betrayal. Pretty much the same old same old then.

But where RSVP differs from most chicklit is that the different characters' lives are so intertwined that not everyone can have a happy ending (in the traditional sense) so we're never really sure until the very end how things will turn out. The story - which flips back and forth over a couple of decades between carefree student days and now - follows the tales of four women. As they are summed up on the back of the book, there's Anna, the heartbroken ex ; Clare, the best friend ; Ella, the femme fatale ; and Rachel, the bride-to-be. They are all important characters and we can empathise with all of them (to varying extents) so the plot is slightly less predictable than many chicklit novels because we don't know who will take centre stage and get the ultimate happy ending. When several girls all want the same man, there can only be one winner - or can there ?!

It's quite realistic too, moreso than many romantic chicklit novels, in that people (particularly the men !) do mess up and things don't always work out perfectly. Clare, in particular, constantly reminds us (and herself) that men aren't perfect and happy ever after isn't always a permanent state of affairs.

The one character I didn't really like was Ella, not - surprisingly - because of her behaviour or personality but because she seemed too much of a caricature. As "bourg" is a French word for village (just as "ville" means town), I'm convinced Ella De Bourg is a thinly-veiled pastiche of the ultimate female villain (Cru)Ella De Ville and she seemed too one-dimensional. Her possible love interest (who is even called Jasper - isn't that the name of one of the dog thieves in 101 Dalmatians ?!) seems totally incoherent and unrealistic.

RSVP is the perfect lightweight poolside read for the summer. It's by turns heartwarming and heartbreaking and it got me hooked so I stormed through it in three days, frequently smiling to myself or feeling angry or upset on behalf of the characters. I couldn't put it down until I found out how it all worked out for everyone and even then, you're left at the end wondering how things will turn out for them. Definitely room for a sequel, I think !

star rating : 3.5/5

RRP : £10 (currently £6 on amazon)

  • Hardcover: 400 pages

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (17 Mar 2011)

  • ISBN-10: 0857201212

  • ISBN-13: 978-0857201218

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    1 comment:

    1. Thanks for the review - I think I'll give this book a miss, not my thing. @maisietoo Following with GFC as Maisie.


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