Thursday, July 10, 2014

Chelsea Bird by Virginia Ironside

It took me a long time, but I only realised, at the end of the book, that Chelsea Bird meant Chelsea girl. Considering that they keep mentioning that bird = girl, I can't believe I didn't make the connection sooner.

Chelsea Bird is about Harriet, who's (I think) "in". She has a steady she can't really stand, she barely goes to art school, and at the young age of 18, she's already fairy cynical. This short novella is really just a snapshot of her life, and by extension, life in sixties London.

For some reason, the voice of this book really reminded me of the voice of Sylvia Path in The Bell Jar. Of course, the narrator here isn't certified as mentally unstable here. But there's just something about it that reminds me about The Bell Jar.

But unlike The Bell Jar, I didn't really like this book. For some reason, I never really connected with the narrator. And even though this book was supposed to "make all those who weren’t [alive in the sixties] wish they had been", I found myself relieved that I wasn't there. Why? Because none of the characters were very likable, to be honest. In fact, one particularly odious character says this, after a girl refuses to go to bed with him:
"She feels cut up! What do you think I feel? I plug her with gins and she won't even be raped. Some people. They don't know when they've got the chance of a lifetime." 
I'm not sure if this was supposed to be funny, but rape jokes aren't cool. Neither is blaming a girl for refusing to be raped - the narrator never really stands up for this girl (because she doesn't really like her, while she did fancy the guy a bit [I think]) and this statement is pretty much ignored by everyone.

So basically, the good parts of this book would be the voice. The terrible parts would be the fact that I can't connect with the characters and that really tasteless remark about rape.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this galley from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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