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Book Review

Playing Around by Gilda O'Neill - Book Review

Title
Author
Publisher

Playing Around
Gilda O'Neill
Arrow

Fiction-Net Rating 2 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

When Angie Knight transforms herself into a mini-skirted dolly bird, it's an escape from life with her bone-idle mother in the East End. Angie soon has the world at her pretty, white-booted feet as she dances the night away in Soho's strobe-lit Canvas Club with her best friend, Jackie.

She's heard all about the dangers of Soho, of course, but what can go wrong? They're only playing around. Until club owner David Fuller sets his sights on Angie and on a dark, rainy night, she climbs alone into his big, shiny car.

We Say

Playing Around is not particularly deep and there is nothing groundbreaking about the premise. 'Ugly duckling' Angie turns into a beautiful swan and learns a hard lesson - the dirty pond can be a dangerous place when you are a delicate creature with newly grown white feathers. You can clearly see the traps that Angie is about to fall into but there are other elements of the story that make this an entertaining, if slightly trashy, yarn.

The setting of London in the sixties is evocative and alluring. The real appeal of glamour and style is here in all its glory making a welcome escape from today's equivalents of grunge and heroin chic. Angie and her friend Jackie drool over lime-green shift dresses, polka dots and geometric haircuts - their idols are Julie Christie and Dusty Springfield. Gilda O'Neill effectively brings this era to life.

Of course, the style on the surface conceals a seedy underside and the story really picks up pace when Angie is pulled into this. The middle section of the book is the most gripping, when Angie becomes involved with the evil David Fuller and the inevitable consequences of his dirty dealing both in his business ventures and personal life.

I noticed that the author, Gilda O'Neill, was brought up in the East End and has written some non-fiction books about women and the history of this area. The characters are good and she has shown her understanding of the people through the compelling dialogue. It is this that really keeps the story moving and heightens the drama. Unfortunately, the ending was slightly flat and predictable. Overall, Playing Around is an enjoyable but not especially rewarding book.

Review by: Rachel Taylor

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