Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The Only Way is Up by Carole Matthews
This could very nearly be classified as Chic-Lit, but I think it's in the realm of the "about-life" novels such as those written by Kristin Hannah, Eva Ibbotson, Lisa Genova and others. It's about a very dramatic fall for the Lamont-Jones family from riches to poverty, and looks at the topic of whether money is needed for happiness.
What this book has (and has been, I must admit, been noted by just about every other reviewer), is an extremely well-written bunch of secondary characters. Those like Tracey, Len, and Skull, no matter how lengthy or brief their appearances, are really very engaging and well, they feel life-like.
And before you dismiss the plot as straightforward, well, it's not. Well, not really. While the happy ending seems guaranteed right from the blurb, there are a few twists and turns. Shall I give spoilers? Ok, I think I shall, so if you don't want to know, skip the rest of this paragraph. Lily (the main protagonist), somehow has a wealthy jeweller chasing after her, even though she's married and has two kids. If I were to quote Phua Chu Kang (one of Singapore's most famous TV characters), it would be "She's been married for XXX (forgot!) years, has two kids, you still want her?). And somehow, Carole Matthews manages to paint such a sympathetic portrait of Lily that I can almost forgive her for this lapse in judgement (and by the end of the book, I do).
This has me thinking of my EE (Extended Essay). I wrote an essay using the Christian Literary Theory, which postulates that every book has the fall, sacrifice and redemption motif/metanarrative inside. I suppose that if I wanted to fit it (you can twist almost anything to fit, some more plausibly than others), you could see it as their fall from riches, their sacrifices they have to make and their "redemption" in becoming a closer family. Or maybe this is just stretching it, but it's a thought.
Right now, I can understand Aunty Florence's reaction. She told me that when she read one Carole Matthews novel, she went out and got as many of her other novels as she could get her hands on. After reading this, I feel like doing the same.