The Brazilian – Rosie Millard (Legend Press 2017) – A Chick-Lit From A Male Point Of View Review

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In a Victoria Wood tribute I watched recently I saw for the umpteenth time “The Shoe Shop Sketch” and I laughed at every single line, as always, feeling almost overwhelmed by laughter at the end.  Such a clever writer.  It got me wondering what would have happened if Victoria had followed the lead of chums Celia Imrie and Julie Walters and written a novel.  Would she have gone for comedy and would it even have worked?  Would it have been possible to sustain her brand of humour (which I find very funny) over the entire length of a novel.  To do this is notoriously difficult……

 

Legend Press invited me to read Rosie Millard’s second comic novel “The Brazilian”.  Rosie is a journalist and as BBC Arts correspondent has been on the TV herself a fair few times so eases herself into that group of women novelists that includes Dawn French,  Fern Britton, Celia Imrie,  Meera Syal and Helen Lederer who we feel we know something about already due to a public persona and “celebrity status”.  So long as they are written by the person named on the cover (not Katie Price then), I’m really quite interested in reading them.  In fact, it was a celebrity moment, a television appearance on the fairly ghastly sounding “Celebrity Five Go To Lanzarotte” in which Rosie took part which provided the inspiration for this novel.

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Rosie Millard

Rosie has cleverly incorporated the characters from her first novel about North London neighbours in “The Square” (2015) into a holiday setting, rather in the way that comedy classic “Are You Being Served?” did when it was expanded into a movie, but here with much better results.  I read and reviewed “The Square” and enjoyed it as a North London comedy of (bad) manners which evolved from the location so I initially felt that uprooting some of these upmarket existences felt like a bit of a risk.  I said of the first novel; “Most of the women are ghastly and the men not worthy of any of the female lustful attentions” but that certainly doesn’t diminish its comic potential and by opening it all out into a relaxed holiday setting the women can become more ghastly and the men less worthy.  Over the years much situation comedy has indeed focused on ghastly women and inept men.

The location for all this is Ibiza.  A couple of The Square residents have been chosen to take part in a daytime reality show “Ibiza (Or Bust)”; there’s a holiday for Jayne, Patrick and their son where a babysitter is needed and with boyfriends and wives making their way over to the island it takes about eight characters out of “The Square”.  I’m sorry that recently rich lottery winner Tracey has only a bit part to play here.  Central character this time round is Jayne who during her family holiday becomes more monstrous, self-centred and devious than in the previous novel.

The title refers to both a character from the Reality Show and a certain waxing Jayne has in preparation for her holiday.  The TV show aspect gives it more structure and ensures it builds towards a climax rather than lose momentum (which I feel “The Square” was a little guilty of).  There’s some new characters to spice things up.  I must admit I like my humour a little warmer than what is on display here but the prickly comic situations are enjoyable enough although I didn’t laugh out loud.

The cover compares Rosie Millard to Anthony Trollope, Jane Austen and Arnold Bennett but that’s more fitting of the socially mannered “The Square”.  If we’re looking for a classic comic comparison I’d be more likely to go with E F Benson and his monstrous characters Mapp and Lucia who gave him enough comic potential and staying power to last six novels.  I think there’s still potential for the author to go further with these characters.  Taking them back to “The Square” with their Ibiza experience behind them could pay dividends.  All in all, although I preferred the set-up of the first novel I think that “The Brazilian” is better structured, the humour is more sustained and therefore a more satisfying sequel.

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The Brazilian is published on 14th June 2017.  Many thanks to the publishers for the review copy.

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The Brazilian Blog Tour here tomorrow!

I have been asked by the lovely folk at Legend Press if I would take part in my very first blog tour.  This is to celebrate the publication of the new book by Rosie Millard.  I read Rosie’s debut “The Square” and this is the follow-up.  I will be posting my review tomorrow but just to whet your appetite here are the blog tour dates for Rosie’s latest, in case you’d like to trawl the blogosphere to see what we thought of the book.

I’ll be back tomorrow…………………………

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The Square – Rosie Millard (Legend Press 2015) – A Chick-Lit From A Male Point Of View Review

heartimagessquareWhen railings around the park in a salubrious Square in North London are deemed to need replacing with “forged Historic Finials”, some of the residents decide to have an alfresco talent show as a fundraiser. This is the starting point for Rosie Millard’s debut comic novel. Millard is a renowned journalist and broadcaster and has been receiving considerable media attention for this book.  Picture below shows Radio Times interview.millardThe houses are identical and the residents strive to be as well heeled as their neighbours but recession is creeping into their lives in various ways. For example, one of the families headed by Tracey obtained their house by a Lottery win and have adopted the social markers of private education, au pairs and piano lessons. Their win is being eroded and Tracey is in need of a financial makeover. Behind the identical windows there are affairs to be hidden, supper parties to be endured and some talent to be found for the forthcoming fundraiser.

Millard pokes fun into the social set she inhabits and I hope her neighbours get the jokes. All in all it’s a well paced romp with a good build-up but she doesn’t quite pull out all the comedic stops for the talent show as I was expecting and from this point on I felt a loss of momentum. Most of the women are ghastly and the men not worthy of any of the female lustful intentions. I’m not too sure where the market for this book lies but I found it an enjoyable experience and anyone wanting to experience a North London comedy of (bad) manners should certainly consider this.

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I read a proof copy of this book which was published by Legend Press on 1st August.

This review also appears on the nudge books site in their Book Diva Section.  Here you can find a couple of  my other reviews which have not yet appeared on reviewsrevues.com