Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Report: The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham

I'd been excited to read The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham (of Confessions of a Shopaholic fame. My apologies to those of you who've heard that a gazillion times before.) But it turned out to be a little disappointing.

The story is about Fleur, a woman who crashes funerals to meet rich men. Once she lands a man, she swindles as much money from him as she can without being detected, then moves on to the next one. But then Fleur meets kind-hearted Richard Favour and for the first time begins to question her love 'em and leave 'em ways.

I didn't like Fleur. Yet because she was the main character, I couldn't help but try to understand her. Which got me thinking. How do authors make us care about fictional people, even the bad ones? As you may recall, the book I read before this one was Shopgirl. Its heroine, Mirabelle, is a wallflowerish, diffident artist, whereas Fleur is an extroverted, manipulative con artist. Had Fleur and Mirabelle ever met, Fleur would surely have eaten Mirabelle for breakfast. Yet it is Mirabelle who stars in the more powerful story, inhabiting a world of dull but heart-wrenching reality compared to Fleur's bubble of soap operatic melodrama.

Given these discrepancies, maybe it's unfair to compare these novels. Not to mention that I'm more likely to read something like The Gatecrasher than something like Shopgirl, despite its many flaws. I guess that's because it's escape I'm after when I pick up a book, not realism. What about you? Do you prefer light fiction, heavy fiction, or something in between?

2 comments:

Michelle said...

Loved this book!!! It had me laughing out loud so many times!!!

The Tote Trove said...

It's nice to meet a fellow fan :) Even though The Gatecrasher wasn't one of my favorites, I can't argue that Wickham/Kinsella has an undeniable talent for situation comedies. I always picture her books as movies. Which is kind of weird, because the movie version of Confessions of a Shopaholic, while fun, didn't live up to the book.