Monday 7 December 2009

RSVP - Tara Moore

"Glamour. Sex. Betrayal. An invitation you can't refuse." Add a front cover with sparkly diamonds, pink lippy and a little black dress and you have a book that screams chick lit at you from the shelf. So I was expecting the usual mix of rampant sex, endless partying and obligatory love interest that is the usual basis for chick lit novels, with not a lot else.

Well, there is a little of each of these elements, but there is also a whole lot more. We have an intricate family saga, encompassing several generations of a wealthy Irish family, where deep dark secrets and family feuds reign. We have a murder-mystery that really did keep me guessing up to the last minute. Plus incestuous relationships, family heartache, complicated love stories and a possible serial-killer on the loose. It reminded me of a cross between Dynasty (Coppelia and Honoria could be Krystle and Alexis !) and Agatha Christie, so it offered more than the usual flimsy chicklit.

The plot has more twists and turns than an Irish B-road (very apt, if I say so myself !) and, although I did predict a few of the "unexpected twists", just as many came as a total surprise. The characters keep us on our feet, as we are never really sure who are the really good, honest people and who has a darker side or a hidden agenda. At the end, the author really toys with us, and I can just imagine her smiling to herself as she wrote the final pages and shattered all the illusions we'd built up surrounding various characters throughout the whole book. Just when we thought everything was neatly tied up, she pulls out another handful of surprises she'd kept tucked up her sleeve until the last minute !

My one little criticism is that I felt the author went a little OTT on the sexual diversity angle. Each individual character was plausible, but it ended up seeming slightly ridiculous to find a very camp homosexual uncle dating a Masai warrior, the warped S & M-loving, coke-sniffing incestuous twins, a jealous Thai mistress, aunties getting involved with nephews, child sex trafficking, sex change operations, half-blood relatives unknowingly getting together, rape and torture, abandoned love children and the Indian lover bumping off the mistress's husband, all in one small family. Even by soap opera standards, that's a lot of sensational storylines in one household !

Putting that aside, it's a fast-paced, intriguing and often surprising storyline with many unforgettable characters. To hijack a bit of Shakespeare, something is very rotten in the estate of Carrickross ! The blurb on the back of the book sums it up nicely - "RSVP is a sumptuous and salacious family saga, packed with sex, love and betrayal. Now who could refuse an invitation like that ?". It's a really enjoyable read.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £10.99

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Orion (21 Jan 2010)
ISBN-10: 1409104648
ISBN-13: 978-1409104643

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