Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review - Wendy Holden's Azur Like It

Azur Like It by Wendy Holden
Published by: Plume
Publication Date: January 27th, 2004
Format: Paperback, 368 Pages
Rating: ★
Out of Print

Kate Clegg dreams of no longer being trapped in a job whose prospects are ever dwindling in her small hometown of Slackmucklethwaite. The local newspaper she works for, The Mercury, has been nicknamed "The Mockery" since it was bought out by a dubious businessman and now concentrates it's energies on advertising and flattering puff pieces. But Kate's horrid new boss has a sexy son, Nat, who is to work alongside her and before long she's lying between the sheets with Nat and spilling her dreams of being a world class journalist covering the Cannes Film Festival while also writing racy romances on the side. Nat claims that he can get his dad to agree to Cannes if she will only pay for the two of them to go, he of course in first class and she in cattle class. Wiping out her savings they head to Cannes where she looses Nat and realizes that he didn't arrange anything and it was all a ruse for her to cough up the money for the plane ticket. Without a job to go back to or any savings or even hope, Kate finds that she's relying on the new people she's met in the small town of Ste. Jeanne, from the displaced wife of a tabloid columnist, to the taciturn staff at her hotel, to the elegant octogenarian Odile, to the dipsomaniac reporter Crichton, to the talented and sexy artist Fabien, she might have more then she thought she had.

I remember back when I first started picking up Chick Lit books at Barnes and Noble that Wendy Holden's books seemed to saturate the shelves with her mildly witty titles like Farm Fatale and Azure Like It. Looking at the shelves nowadays she is noticeably absent and after reading Azur Like It after it languished on my shelves for almost ten years I can say I am not in the least surprised that this and many of her other books are out of print, that's if this one is anything to go by. It wasn't just that the book goes for the cheap laugh or that I had no way to connect to any of the characters, it's mainly that Wendy Holden doesn't grasp that a book needs to be definable not such a mish mash of genres that you want to shake it to see if it can somehow be knocked into shape. But predominately the lead was so unlikable that I wouldn't have minded if she had had an accident on those lovely hairpin turns that litter the south of France.

Let me start with Kate's stupid and hateful nature. There's stupid and then there's stupid. Kate just might actually be so stupid that she is beyond this scale and in her own "special" category. How can someone be so naive and dumb, she's a gorram idiot! Firstly, the fact that she is in bed with her boss's unlikable son within five minutes of meeting him and then, despite the fact that he's supposedly rich, is gladly giving him money for him to head to Cannes... how, just how!?! Angry, rage, building in me. If she was someone I knew I'd drown her out of the goodness of my heart. How does she not see through Nat. No seriously, how!?! He says he can't call her because his father took his phone and then he's always texting in front of her? Say what? That lie right there should have triggered all her warning bells, which she obviously doesn't have. Then there's the whole, she lost her job because of him, because she blindly trusted someone for no reason other then he's hot. WTF! Then there's her dream of wanting to go to the Cannes Film Festival but once there her complete ignorance of anything to do with the festival. Seriously, what was the author thinking?

At first I might have felt a little, tiny, gnat sized iota of sympathy for Kate, because attraction and sex make us do stupid things, but then I realized she's just a hateful person. She blindly trusted Nat and I don't know if this made her hate everyone or if Nat was some aberration, but she is downright cruel to nice people. She thinks Odile is crazy and deluded and could never have been a beauty, whereas Odile has had a stroke so therefore her appearance has changed. The there's Ken, she treats him like garbage despite his always being nice and taking care of her friend. Also the cruel nicknames she gives people make me want to punch her. Kate is a hateful little bitch who just distrusts and dislikes everyone and I just want her to die. I'm not sure I've actually wanted to harm someone so much who is the heroine of a book in all my years of reading. Needless to say this book is quickly being sold, it would be burned in a ceremonial pyre, but I don't believe in book burning.

Then there's the genre issue. Yes, books can mix and mash genres. Genres aren't a hard and fast rule, but when you start throwing in so many that it makes the book bloated and convoluted, well, you have a problem. The genres that I was able to pick out where: romance, expose, celebrity parody, roman à clef, thriller, Gothic horror, and espionage... in fact, Chick Lit seems to not even be in there. It tries to be everything and ends up being nothing. But the straw that broke the camels back was when it decided to go into Gothic horror. When Kate is in bed and sees a hooded monk with a skull head she seriously just hides under the covers? Firstly, this isn't scary or funny, secondly, why did she never connect the skull to the skull in pretty boy's studio upstairs? Well, that's just her stupidity again and I just realized she's pissing me off so much I'm making exasperated hand gestures while writing this review. And why wouldn't you tell anyone about seeing a scary skull monk? It doesn't fit with anything before or after and is just a stupid plot device, like everything else in this book.

In summarizing this book that is not surprisingly out of print I have to just touch on the plethora of stupidity that fills it's pages. Kate is obsessed with condoms. Any person in this day and age who doesn't practice safe sex is an idiot but the fact that the safe sex is laboriously pointed out... um, no, and ew, in fact ew to all the sex in this book. Next, Celia, she says she deserved being beaten by her husband? WHAT!?! Ok, there is a victim's mentality, but no one should ever say they deserved this, especially in a book I picked up to be a fun and light read, just dropping in the fact that domestic abuse is ok, well, that's par for the stupidity of this book. The Bond jokes, including the title of the book are just groan worthy. And finally the painting! Fabien had painted a portrait of Kate years before he met her. Say what? Did he see her somewhere, have a vision quest, have an old picture of Kate's grandmother from during the war? Anything would have been better then no explanation and it just emphasizes the laziness of the writing in this book. Just one more thing to chalk up against this book which I shall now stop talking or writing about because it's making me cranky. Where's my old person stick to wave a whippersnappers?


Newer Post Older Post Home