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Book Review

Virtue by Serena Mackesy - Book Review


Serena Mackesy

Fiction-Net Rating 4 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

What do you need to be a saint these days? Ambition, determination and good PR. But what do you do if your mother's a saint and you just want to be human?

Anna and Harriet share a burden - hellishly saintly mothers. So armed with a wicked sense of humour, they set out to paint the town red and for a while, life goes swimmingly but when they tread on one too many toes, they find that they have only their worst instincts - and each other - to rely on.

Be good. And if you can't be good, be careful.

We Say

'By the bestselling author of The Temp', proudly boasts the front cover. Hmm, I'd keep quiet about that, if I were you. The Temp gets our vote for one of the worst books ever written and whoever decided to put that over-used cliché on the back cover ('If you can't be good') deserves to be shot. Let's move on.

Anna and Harriet are both twenty-something. They live together, work together and play together. They have much in common, despite having very different backgrounds. The most obvious similarity is that they are both trying, in their own different ways, to escape the reputation and the accompanying responsibilities of their famous mothers. Told from the viewpoint of Anna, we watch as she and Harriet try to live their lives the way they want to, and not the way anyone else or the media tries to dictate. Does it work?

To a degree - yes. There is no question that both Anna and Harriet are likable characters and the story, even when becoming somewhat ludicrous, still keeps on the right side of enjoyable - but it's not without its many flaws. There are annoying characters - Henry the damn cat tries to steal the scene in just about every chapter and does little more than annoy. There are some cringe-inducing moments when Mackesy misses the mark and, perhaps more surprising considering the author's journalistic background, the numerous 'newspaper articles' featured in Virtue are pretty awful and would be deemed unworthy of publication even in local rags.

Criticism taken into account, for the most part, Virtue is a much more impressive product than The Temp. The story moves fast, the characters and locations are genuinely enjoyable and there are some real shocking moments.

This time, I'm happy to say that we're mostly laughing with the author, not at her.

Review by: Rob Cook

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