Saturday, July 24, 2010

Laughter Reviews - Keeper: FARM FATALE

FARM FATALE: A Comedy of Country Manors
Wendy Holden
Sourcebooks, 2010 (reissue)

Premise: Disillusioned Londoner seeks professional and romantic renewal through relocation to British countryside.

Cover: Title - Alliterative = win, funny = even winnier, plays on previous Holden title 'Fame Fatale' = winningest; the British title for the same book, 'Pastures Nouveaux', was good also, but Apprentice Writer must confess that she likes this better.
Art - gorgeous, saturated color and black silhouettes, perfectly complements cover art for previous title 'Beautiful People'; Apprentice Writer suspects that once Sourcebooks has completed its current run of Holden titles, the results would look spectacular popped into one of those big, multi-cutout picture frames that display half a dozen images at once.

What Works: This may possibly be AW's favorite Holden title of all. There is a perfect balance between empathy with the female protagonist character and amused disbelief with the female antagonist character. The secondary characters run the gamut of what the reader (at least, this one) would like to see in a British set story: glam urbanite, nosy neighbor, farmer, rock star, and AW's favorite: Bond girl. What's not to like? Not to mention the setting; AW adores HGTV-type shows that follow prospective home buyers poking around all sorts of villages and period cottages on the search for a rural retreat. This novel takes that longing, and looks at the unattractive (but very funny) underbelly of what that means in the real estate market. So as the reader can well predict, the heroine's dreams of an idyllic country cottage don't quite pan out. Equal in the non-panning-out department are the anti-heroine's dreams of an ostentatious country estate. The contrasts, and what the two women do about it, keep the reader entertained to the end and provide the basis for the apt subtitle 'A Comedy of Country Manors' (itself a clever play on words).

What Doesn't: Can't think of anything.

Overall: A classic Holden comedy of satiric contrasts that merrily mocks some behaviors and stereotypes even as it incites mad fantasies of leaping onto trans-Atlantic flights to seek out one's own charming English village filled with traditional as well as cutting-edge eccentrics.

But does it make you laugh? Yes, yes, yes!

Lady Avon! Ghost envy! A heart attack that somehow manages to be entertaining even though it really isn't! Just deserts for social snobs! Just a few of the entertaining bits that await. Gentle Reader: go forth and enjoy. And then please come back to say if AW promised too much or just enough!

Learn more about the author here.


Rachel said...

Lovely! Lovely! I am really interested in this as I am a sucker for the city to country set-ups. Most especially when they include the "won't everything be better in the country" ideal and then reality pops in to say hello. Adding this to the TBR right now!

M. said...

Rachel - I'll be interested to see what you think. I'm a big fan of early Holden's dry satire, which has not always come through in some of her later works. This one is a classic.

Rachel said...

I'll keep you posted for sure. Waiting for a credit to come through on PaperbackSwap.

I thought of a contemporary that I like: Lisa Kleypas. I actually like her contemporary better than her historical (gasp!). Have you read any of hers?

Rachel said...

I'm back! Have read and have opinions (big surprise, huh?). So it really didn't work for me. I loved the set-up, laughed quite a bit, but was overall fairly bored through the entire reading. It was weird because I was definitely amused and laughing but still bored. I think I had a hard time bonding with the characters. I didn't like anyone that much so no one anchored me in the story. Due to that I was just waiting for the next funny line without really caring what was happening to anyone.

I'm still happy to have tried it out, though, and I got several laughs out of it which is always good.