11 August 2011
Book Review: The Lingerie Designer by Siobhan McKenna
I love discovering new authors, and through Poolbeg Press, the Irish publishers I have discovered quite a few. When I was sent a copy of The Lingerie Designer to review, I was intrigued as this author was discovered through an Irish television show and won the 'Write a Bestseller' competition, so I have to say I had pretty high hopes for this one. The cover wasn't one I immediately loved, it didn't look anything special and I think they could have come up with something a bit more relevant to the title than half of a woman's face in a pretty top to be honest, but either way, I got stuck in ready to read and hopefully discover another brilliant new author.
I'll start straight away with my main gripe about the book. When I read the title, I expected a great look into the job of a lingerie designer, what they do, how they do their work, and a pretty glamourous leading lady. Sadly, I don't think this book delivered on any of that and I actually think the title of this book is very mis-leading. Yes, Helen's job happens to be a Lingerie Designer but that seems to be as far as it goes, aside from a lavish overseas trips to find manufacturers. I wonder if this title was chosen to grab readers' attention rather than to reflect the story itself which is a real shame as it made me expect things this book just didn't deliver. Also, the tag line describes it as a cross between 'The Devil Wears Prada' meets 'Eat, Pray, Love'. I've read the former and can safely say it doesn't at all reflect that, and not having read the latter I can't pass comment.
The main character is Helen Devine, a woman I really struggled to warm to until at least halfway through the book. When we first meet her, it's clear that she loves her job but I found the excessive side of her a bit much, i.e. she goes out drinking and tries to drink everyone else under the table, not a side of her I liked very much. I also found her relationship with her on/off boyfriend Rob a little too unsavoury, she seems far too naive for my liking. When things about Helen's father become clearer, I did sympathise with her more and enjoyed her character's journey here, but for the most part, I didn't like her at all. The other main character is Poppy, Helen's best friend, and while I found her more likeable, she was a little too preachy with her personal beliefs re. meditation and other 'Synchronicity' related things, and I found it a little heavy at times.
I have to be honest and say that I found myself skipping parts of this book, especially related to things with Poppy and her beliefs as I found them a bit unnecessary for the rest of the book, and went on a bit too long for my personal tastes. I struggled to take some of it in as well which was a shame. I enjoyed the travel section of the book, Helen and Jack making their way around Asia was fascinating reading, and I loved the friendship these two quickly struck up. I found the coincedences part of the book was rammed down our throats a little bit, especially relating to a gentleman Helen kept seeing, but again I just chose to ignore these parts. However, I found the enjoyable bits overrode the more negative elements of the book for me and overall I enjoyed the read, I was just careful to try and skim past those I knew I wasn't enjoying so much. The writing style was easy to read, and I felt McKenna had a good grasp of her story throughout the book. It was a good read, one which is perhaps slightly mis-led by its title and let down by some more ramblings paragraphs, but overall, it was a book I found enjoyable for the most part.