Even though not at all my cup of tea, this was an utterly
engaging book which I read in a few gripped sessions. There is no denying the quality of Hazel
Ward; her writing is articulate, vivid and raw, drawing the reader into the
characters’ lives like the script of a soap (a good one, not Eastenders). All of this, despite the fact that I actually
found Netta Wilde to be a particularly irritating personality, like the friend
you try to put off meeting, because you pretty much know what the single
conversation will be about for the entire time.
There is a darkness in Netta, and less than wholesome backstory, though Being
Netta Wilde does veer away from the more despicable elements in our society
– it isn’t that type of family drama; in less uptight times than now (about
three years ago!) this would have been defined as “chick-lit”. More specifically, to be honest, unless
you’re a fan of family and relationship fiction from the point of view of a
divorced woman, it is something of an effort to absorb 360-odd pages of inward
analysis and single-minded reflection.
If this is your preferred genre, though, then it is fair to say that
Netta’s odyssey is a really decent read, and you’ll struggle to find many
Other than events prior to the narrative, this does tend to
pretty much stick to the formula of the genre – a la Richard Curtis, perhaps –
whereby all the pieces land in perfect formation. These books are like a jigsaw, in that you
can already see the finished picture, it is just a case of which order the
scenes are going to take shape: the perfect outcome; the perfect apology; the
perfect clever retort – books in this genre are hindsight fantasy, which is of
course their appeal to their readership.
Being Netta Wilde will certainly appeal to Netta Wildes the world
over, but other readers might find the patient, unassuming and liberal virtues
of Netta a touch idealistic.
But it is a fine book, to be sure, written exceptionally
well by a high-quality author, if strictly for fans of the formula. If you consider yourself to be one of them,
then I definitely advise giving it a go.
In : Book Reviews