Set in 1950's Britain, Born Bad tells the sad story of Harry Blake, whose young wife is terminally ill. In fact, within just a dozen pages, she has passed away in a very sad scene, sitting in a wheelchair while watching her little boy playing with his daddy at the park. The mood is set - this is going to be a melodramatic tearjerker that tugs on your heartstrings, not some frothy, heartwarming escapist chicklit !
Harry's wife had made him promise that after her death, he'd return to his hometown to look up his first love, Judy Saunders, the one that he never forgot and who, it turns out, never forgot him either. They have history - a lot of it in fact - so they'll need to work through a lot of things if they are to have another chance together, but Harry has made it his new life's mission. Judy's life hasn't been any easier than Harry's - after being thrown out on the streets as a teen, she has ended up married to a total bully.
Luckily, although the ill-fated pair have the odds stacked up against them, they do have "Irish Kathleen" on their side who is a force to be reckoned with. She does come across as a bit of a stereotype - I couldn't help but keep picturing Mrs Brown from Mrs Browns' Boys every time she spoke ! - but she is an important cog in the machine for putting things to rights.
I did find it a bit predictable and not wholly realistic - the central characters seem to have layer upon layer of tragedy and mishaps wrapped around their unhappy little lives ! - and I thought more could have been made of the 1950's backdrop too. At times, I forgot that this wasn't supposed to be happening in a modern setting. The morals and atmosphere of post-war Britain, with rationing, hardships, reconstruction and women finding a new role in society could have been more fully exploited.
It's ultimately a tale of hope, perseverance and love conquering all but overall, I found it to be quite a dark, depressing read. If you like Mills & Boon type romances, you might enjoy it though.
star rating : 3/5
RRP : £12.99
- Paperback: 468 pages
- Publisher: Harper (15 Oct 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007221177
- ISBN-13: 978-0007221172
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