12 May 2011
Book Review: Becoming Scarlett by Ciara Geraghty
I read and loved Ciara Geraghty's debut novel Saving Grace, it was fresh, it was well written and it was incredibly enjoyable. We've had quite a wait for this book to be released, but after the success of her first book, I was convinced this was going to be worth the wait and eagerly sat down to read it when it came through my postbox. I quite like the new cover design, again, its very different from her debut novel but I love the cartoon style, although I think the amount of white isn't great and makes it look a tad blander than it could be. At around 400, its a fairly long novel, but I like that - its something to get stuck into, so I was hoping this would be a great book I wouldn't be able to put down.
Sadly, while I did like elements of the book, there were lots of things I didn't like about it as well. As soon as I started reading, I realised that Geraghty had certainly taken a completely different writing tone with this book compared to her previous one, and that was a bit of a surprise. Its not often you find authors who change their writing style book to book so I was curious about how that would affect both my enjoyment and the book as a whole. The writing style was very comedic, but I did feel it was a bit too try hard, there were moments when Geraghty was trying too hard for a funny moment and while it was amusing, it didn't hit the mark for me.
I did like character of Scarlett, she is a normal woman struggling to come to terms with a somewhat unusual situation, but she deals with it in a good and fairly realistic way. It was nice to see her character face up to the situation with the two men, Red and John, rather than sweep it under the carpet as I imagined she might, and I liked her for that. Geraghty writes it from Scarlett's point of view, so we follow her around at all times, get her feelings on her pregnancy and everything else to do with that, and you can really get into her head and character. References to the name Scarlett O'Hara (her real name!) do pop up throughout the book but luckily not too much, just the odd funny aside which was good. However, I wasn't too keen on the way Scarlett blows hot and cold with the 2 men all the time, it seemed very unfair and really wound me up at times. I understood why she was like that, but I did really sympathise with poor John especially.
There is quite an emotional issue to do with the baby towards the end, I don't want to give anything away for anyone who wants to read it so I won't go into detail but as a mum who went through the exact same things as Scarlett did in the book, I did find the final third of the book very emotional and sometimes difficult to read. However, I felt Geraghty wrote it with compassion and respect for the situation, with a very emotional touch that really hit me but maybe that's just because I have personally experienced it. It's well covered, you can tell Geraghty has done her research and its a good portion of the book. I did find the inclusion of this part of the quite a surprise as I didn't expect it, but now I've read it, I am glad it was included.
Despite the positives, it was just the writing style, forced humour and other niggles that just got to me. I did find myself occasionally getting a little frustrated with the book, which really isn't like me, so I often put it down for a short break so I could focus on it fully when I picked it up again. It did drag for a while in the middle, perhaps that didn't help but the others characters do pep it up a bit, especially Scarlett's crazy Australian assistant, she was fabulous. Geraghty deals with what is an awkward situation with compassion and humour (albeit a tad forced and OTT at times) and I did enjoy it, but there is just something I can't put my finger on that didn't do it for me. It is a good book, but I far preferred Saving Grace and hope Geraghty goes back to that writing style again soon.