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Friday, 9 February 2007

'Sparkles' by Louise Bagshawe


I’ve read Louise Bagshawe for a few years now. I could always bank on her to produce a trashy, steamy, entertaining romp. So when she rediscovered her Catholicism and felt that she would no longer be comfortable writing her saucy sex scenes I thought well, that’s it, it’s over. Now don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy books without sex, but it would have to be a truly hilarious book a la Marian Keyes or an riveting crime novel like Lisa Gardner. But I decided to give Bagshawe’s new writing a shot and picked up a copy of ‘Monday’s Child’. And I didn’t like it. It was unbearably dull. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think I could even finish it. Naturally, I didn’t bother trundling through the follow-up ‘Tuesday’s Child’ as it looked like it would be just as boring. So when I found myself eying up Bagshawe’s latest offering ‘Sparkles’ I was slightly surprised. But I allowed myself to be swindled by the pretty cover and the back cover sounded like it was right up my alley so I went ahead and bought it.

And you know what?

It wasn’t half bad.

‘Sparkles’ is a book set in the beautiful city of Paris. Seven years ago Pierre Massot, the enigmatic head of one of the last great jewellery firms in Paris, vanished. Now his widow Sophie needs to finally move on and decide what to do with the family business. But she has enemies, ones she doesn’t even know about, who wish for her to tumble and fall. There is a scandal waiting to be exposed. What really happened to Pierre and what is the family secret he has so desperately tried to bury?

This was an easy read. Nothing too complex, a bit of glitz, glamour, mystery and romance. The plot focuses on Sophie and her efforts to distance herself from the past and Pierre. She finds herself getting involved with the very attractive Hugh Montfort. The problem is he is working for the company who are striving to take over House Massot. Lurking behind the scenes is Judy, the conniving ex-mistress of Pierre Massot, who is working herself to the bone, attempting to seduce Pierre’s son Tom. And then there is the question mark that is Pierre. What on earth happened to him? In a delicious climax at the end of ‘Sparkles’ the truth is unveiled. And I would say it a very satisfactory finale.

I wouldn’t label these characters as well-developed. They’re not. One-dimensional and clichéd are the terms that come to mind. And this in my opinion was a failing for this book because chick lit needs good characters. And besides that, Bagshawe has the skill to create decent characters so I want to know, what the hell happened here? Sophie was way too naïve for my taste. Even with something right under her nose she couldn’t smell the rat. Judy, the villain of the piece was probably my favourite character. She was smart and she had her own troubles. But preferring the villain to the heroin is never a good sign. There aren‘t any memorable personas in ’Sparkles’. Though while reading, Hugh was suitably sexy.

I love books set in France. I don’t know why, maybe because it adds such a glamorous quality to a book. No, glamorous is the wrong word. Maybe ‘cultured’. No, not that either. France gives an ‘international’ air to the book and the scenery in France is so beautiful, the countryside and the city of Paris too. The author can use the scenery to really involve the reader in a book. I don’t think Bagshawe uses this to the fullest advantage in ’Sparkles’ but nonetheless, it’s there.

I enjoyed the romance between Hugh and Sophie. It was sweet. Sophie had been controlled by Pierre from a very young age, she had never experienced other men. So being in Hugh’s company was virgin territory for her. But I didn’t feel any heat between them, no chemistry so it was hard to accept them as a bona fide couple.

All in all I did enjoy this book. It was a fun, no-brainer. Perfect for the beach or a lazy Sunday afternoon. But there are a lot of books in this genre that do it so much better. I would get this through your library unless you’re really desperate.

So if you’re desperate (that sounds horrible doesn’t it?) get ‘Sparkles’ here.

Rating: 21/50
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3 comments:

nath said...

Interesting, so that's why her style changed so much :) I didn't know :P I've read some of her previous books and enjoyed them. She writes a bit like Jackie Collins :P Ah well, I'll buy this book when I have nothing to read I guess...

Ondo Lady said...

Her earlier books such as 'The Movie' 'Career Girls' and 'Tall Poppies' were great and then she lost the plot with 'Venus Envy.' I think forgot to write a story line, talk about bland and boring. Then she decided to re-write 'Tall Poppies' and call it 'When She Was Bad' but she redeemed herself with 'Monday's Child' which was actually very good and with a great lead character. After that it all went down hill and 'The Devil You Know' was tedious as was 'Tuesday's Child.' It's a shame because before she found God she was well on her way to becoming the new Jackie Collins and then she had to go all Jane Green on me. Is it true that she is now the MP for Corby? Dammm!!!!

Lyn said...

I disagree a little with your review. I thoroughly loved the book and thought there was plenty of chemistry between Hugh and Sophie. I think the naivity (if thats a word) of Sophie was intentional, since she was tied down at such a young age and hadn't really experienced much. I kind of agree with the characters being not so well-developed, yet that didn't really bother me since I was more blinded by all of the lust and love in the story.

I'd recommend reading it even when you do have something to read, since it is quite a good book. :)