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Monday 17 September 2012

Permanently Temping by Lauren Milner-Howells


Oh dear.  With regret, I didn’t enjoy this.  This was a chick-lit novel, but I think even a 13-year-old would have been embarrassed to read it. 

It features a university graduate, Hollie, who like many graduates, is trying to decide what career path to follow, and defying her father’s ambitions for her to follow law, flits from one temp job to another.  And of course, true to chick-lit form, there’s a broken heart (cheating university ex-boyfriend), a heart about to be broken (cheating current boyfriend) and a lusted-for hands-off future boyfriend. 

But…Hollie had barely two brain cells to rub together—how she managed a university degree is beyond me.  She wasn’t just ditzy and scatty, she was a bit stupid and immature.  There was no character development, the dialogue was immature and just not credible.  I simply cannot believe that a law firm would have nothing better to think of than a cake rota, that a 22-year-old’s sole ambition would be to ride in a police van with flashing lights (seriously?) or that someone would be seen as a capable events’ organiser simply because she happened to have a couple of packets of post-its in her handbag.  Nor can I believe that an intelligent graduate would list bullet-point drawing as a skill.

Sadly, too, the book was unedited:  punctuation was practically non-existent, there were spelling mistakes, and every adjective seemed to be followed by ‘looking’, eg, imposing-looking, worn-looking, petite-looking, green-looking (???), garish-looking…….in fact, about 40 of them.

In theory, although typically predictable chick-lit, this had all the elements for a fun story, a funny story even.  The author had a well-mapped plot, and it was neatly, although not unexpectedly, wrapped up, and she has a light, easy-to-read, uncomplicated style.  In essence, all the perfect ingredients.  It just lacked maturity and substance.  I so wanted to like Hollie, but she was just irritating and rather vacuous. 

On the whole, it wasn’t a bad attempt for a debut novel, but I think the author needs both a technical and developmental editor, especially if she wants to aim at an audience that's older than young teenagers.

1 comment:

  1. I think a lot of female authors attempting to enter the "Bridget Jones" arena make the mistake of alienating readers from their main characters instead of using occasional quirks to endear them. They see the ditziness as charming but they don't realize overdoing it actually makes their character look dumb and eventually difficult to tolerate. Thanks for telling it like it is, Cathy.