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Married Alive by Julie Burchill - Book Review


Married Alive
Julie Burchill

Fiction-Net Rating 3 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

Nicole is your average 1990's babe - fun-loving, hard-drinking, independent, sassy. She's met Mr Right, sexy photographer Matt, and they share a cool loft conversion in London's Docklands. Nicole's life is most definitely sorted - until she decides to rescue her gran, Liza, from a fate worse than death (an old people's home) and brings her back to the Docklands Loft.

When Matt returns from a photoshoot, expecting Nicole's enthusiastic welcome, and finds Liza, minus her false teeth but ready and willing, he is less than amused and when Nicole suspects Matt is having an affair with a page-three model and her gran appears to prefer the company of a twelve year old nymphet she picked up in the streets, things go from bad to worse. Is this a case of Hell being other people? Or is she well on the way to being buried - or married - alive?

We Say

Known for being angry and outspoken, author Julie Burchill pulls no punches with her writing style in Married Alive. Now, the great thing about this is, when it works well it can be funny and frighteningly sharp. Some of the one-liners are great: "I'd noticed this thing about my thighs recently - that they always went to bed ten minutes after I did. Like we were at boarding school and they were in a higher form or something."

However, I can't help thinking that Julie Burchill takes this too far and you end up feeling like there's nothing to make you really care about these characters. Sure, Nicole has her problems and goes to see a psychiatrist but then it seems like this is just a crucial accessory to her fashionable angst-ridden modern life. She uses drugs for the same reason but perceptively says: "I'll tell you the problem with drugs. Whereas most things are either the problem or the solution, drugs are the problem and the solution."

Nicole also rescues her gran, the one person she seems to really love but who she turns against and rejects for disrupting her trendy Docklands lifestyle. Nicole is clever, funny and rebellious but I'm not sure that she seemed very real.

It would have been nice to see more genuine vulnerability in Nicole to provide some contrast with the humour. In fact, all the characters could have been more three-dimensional. Even so, Married Alive is a good read with a plot that moves along quickly and does keep you entertained. Maybe we should just trust Nicole (and Burchill) when she presents this empty lifestyle to us and says, "Trust me, I'm a modern."

Review by: Rachel Taylor

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