Sunday, 1 April 2012

Handbags and Gladrags--What a Nightmare of a Book!!

Have just returned from three days and two nights of camping in the Upper Derwent Valley of Tasmania with a friend.  We took our bikes up for a good ride and some rest and relaxation.

Rode to Wyatinah which is a hydro town now pretty much closed up. The plan was to establish cheap hydro electricity for residents of Tasmania.  However we currently pay the 6th highest rates for power in the world thanks to our wonderful government. However I will not get into that as this is a pleasant column.

I decided that Travellin Penguin would have to read something found on this camping area in quite a remote spot and see what I ended up with. Might be fun. Might be excellent. Might be awful.  Turns out it was awful.
We set up our tents in a wonderful spot on a lagoon and enjoyed a meal cooked outdoors.

The next morning we rode the 65 kms farther north to Derwent Bridge for lunch at the Hungry Wombat cafe.

 I had no idea if I would find a cheap read up there but turns out I did.

The choice was limited and I chose a book by author Sally Warboyes. I had never heard of her but I must say next time I see her name I will run a mile. I chose this book off the limited shelf selection because it took place in the east end of London in the 1950's.  That appealed to me.  

There are three main characters.  Nathan who is a very fat pimply faced Jewish adolescent boy who is continually bullied by Kenny.  Stay with this because the story is so bad it is funny.   Charlotte is the Christian girl who has befriended Nathan and sticks up for him when the bullies pick on him.  

Nathan is completely besotted with Charlotte but knows she will never be his girlfriend because she is beautiful as a lovely doe in spring and she is Christian. He knows he must marry a Jewish partner in life. 

Although Charlotte spends a great deal of time with tears welling up in her eyes because she is so incredibly sensitive to the beautiful things in life.  She cries when she seems an autumn leaf or a young bird.

Yet time and again she buoys Nathan up by distracting the bullies as they are getting ready to once again pound Nathan into the ground.  After one such incident they hide in the game keeper's hut in the nearby park.  Kenny and the bullies have lost the chase.  As they sit together talking about their lives in East London Charlotte lets the cat out of the bag by telling Nathan she and her family will be moving out of East London in another three weeks to a new housing estate that has been established in a small village a couple of hours away.  

Nathan is devastated to lose his young love and does not know how he will cope. She advises him to go to the theatre classes he loves and pour his angst into the characters on stage. This is what he does and eventually it becomes his life.

Chapter ends. Next chapter begins and it is now 5 years later in the small town Charlotte lives in.  Her father is in the local pub having a drink one night when he recognises Kenny who is now 20 years old.  Kenny is still spelling trouble with some low down gangsters trying to wheel and deal some criminality. They in turn know he is the jerk he portrays himself as.
Long story short.... Charlotte's father recognises him and is worried.  He knew the kid was never any good and never would be.....   As I am boring myself stupid writing this I am going to finish it up.

 Charlotte hears rumours about Nathan and decides to contact him after all this time.  He is now tall, thin, handsome and smart. He is still in love with her. (Of course, we knew that)

She takes a train to London where they meet up, fall in love and live happily ever after. Everything we know would happen, does.

There is also a murder in her flat that turns out to have been committed by Kenny. Turns out Kenny has an issue with women and has turned into a serial killer.  There are bodies hidden everywhere.

He longs to kill Charlotte because he has fantasized about it for such a long time.  Of course it does not happen.   Charlotte refuses to move out of the flats though on principal because she wants to be treated as an adult and needs her independence.

Eventually she marries Nathan, whose parents have decided that Charlotte is such a lovely young woman she does not need to be Jewish.

Kenny has now been captured and put into jail for life and everyone lives happily ever after.  I can't ruin the ending for anyone because it is so incredibly predictable there are no surprises.

After I had reached the half way point of this book I was using my finger to trail down each page, reading only three or four words on a page.  This was enough to see what happens to everyone. 

On the positive side, I always enjoy the very occasional terrible book because it makes the great ones all the sweeter.

Next time I go camping and travelling I am not sure if I will use the strategy of reading whatever I come across or not. This was truly painful. I left the book behind in the camp ground loo and no doubt someone else might think it is a great find.

I really do wonder how books such as these get published.  It must take a lot of money to publish a book and I can't imagine there would be much return on this.

Out of curiosity I  googled the author and seems she is a renowned British author of good standing. I found a site that has reviews of several of her books and the ones with higher reviews are East End Girl,  White Chapel Mary and East End Bow.  I see that this book I have read is rated just slightly over 2 stars which is very low.  I have obviously hit upon one of her real lemons.  

However once burned I will not be looking this author up any time soon.

As this review is so dismal I do hope you enjoy the photos of the camping side of things as camping in Tasmania is always stunning.

On my way home to find a better read.


  1. Aw..I'm sorry you had a bad read but, if it's any consolation, you did provide me with a good laugh on my way to work this morning reading this. I have had a few experiences like that myself - ironically mostly whilst camping with nothing else to read!

    Fab blog. Are they your shelves on the side!?

  2. Thanks for your reply. As this blog is fairly new I am not used to them yet. No the shelves are not mine but mine are not much smaller. There are photos in one of the earlier posts and also some photos on my travelpod blog (link up above). It is fun to camp with a book even if the book is so bad it makes you laugh. Thanks for stopping by, cheers , Pam


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