I’ve set myself the challenge to read and video review as many of the Richard & Judy Book Club Autumn 2017 picks as possible. Today I’m reviewing: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. Have you read it? What do you think about the subject matter? And what do you think of the ONE BIG PROBLEM with this video?
Posts Tagged ‘Reading recommendations’
This book was recommended too me by Isabel Costello following a hibiscus margarita and a conversation about female satirists.
Eat My Heart Out is a satire of our narcissistic, hedonistic, post-post-feminist world. It centres upon Ann-Marie an anti-heroine in her early twenties who, after suffering a mental breakdown and walking out of her finals at Cambridge, is trying to find her way in the world in London.
Ann-Marie’s voice is startling and unique. Her journey allows Pilger to lampoon a whole host of targets, including burlesque dancing, reality TV, contemporary art, academic feminism, hipsters, class, wealth, privilege and the baby boomers. Ann-Marie is misunderstood, abused, and taken advantage of by all around her. She resolutely refuses to take control of her own life, and instead favours the naive optimism of a quick fix in the form of ‘sweet love!’ Surely a hangover from popular culture’s happy ever after? The reader is left with the feeling that everyone, including themselves, want to make Ann-Marie into something else. To be the sculptor of her life. Too control her. Ann-Marie rebels kicking and screaming against all, even when she herself doesn’t know what it is that she wants.
Eat My Heart Out is a bleak, shocking, and, in places, repulsive tale, it is also very, very funny. The detached and grotesquely comic sex scenes remind me of those in Lena Dunham’s Girls. Despite occasionally reading like a lurid fantastical novel, the familiarity of the characters and situations in Eat My Heart Out leave it routed, unnervingly, in reality. A dark comedy for the cynical.
Eat My Heart Out, Zoe Pilger: A raw and meaty 4/5
I love a small book. The recent popularity of doorstop tomes, which piggybacked in on the coattails of talented writers like Mantel and Catton, has seen a number of verbose and flaccid bricks lolloped onto the market, when, really, they could have benefited from a decent edit. Not so with Smith. The Embassy of Cambodia is a master class in tight, compact fiction, where far more is revealed than the 69 pages might imply.
It tells the story of Fatou, a West African migrant, who has escaped one hell, and found herself in a purgatory: caught between freedom and imprisonment. The story is set in Willesden, a part of London Smith is personally familiar with and has taken her readers too before. There is also the reoccurrence of a pompous male character, who could represent a love interest, except our heroine appears indifferent to him. And there is a familiar motif of escapism, in this case swimming. Fatou struggling up and down the pool of her employers’ fancy gym in her black underwear. Is Smith playing with us with these accustomed echoes? Is this an ironic meta element to her work? Or merely a repetition of tried and tested ideas? Whether it is any, all, or none of these it works for me. The Embassy of Cambodia is small enough to enjoy in one sitting, but big enough to stay with you long after.
Smith’s writing evokes a sensory experience that brings Fatou, and her world, to life. She gives voice to a character that is often not heard by wider society. You might have walked past Fatou on the street, or swum past her in the pool; don’t miss her story.
The Embassy of Cambodia, Zadie Smith: A perfectly formed 4/5
Looking for a holiday read? Fancy a bit of glamour, fast paced funny fashion, real life romance, and juicy gossip? Take a gander at this *FREE* sample chapter of Amazon’s number one fashion bestseller, my humourous memoir Confessions of a Fashionista (click on link below):
“Sharply observed and extremely funny.”
“I read this in one sitting. It made me laugh out loud. I highly recommend Confessions of a Fashionista.”
“An excellent read … it’s a very enjoyable, eye-opening foray into the (mad) world of fashion.”
Published by Virgin and available from all good bookstores, or to order from here: