The Revenge by Shirley Conran

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Shirley Conran is the mother of the Hollywood blockbuster novel. Or perhaps the incredibly glamorous maiden aunt who drinks a martini for lunch every day. Her bestseller Lace is a raunchy, sassy masterpiece about four women through the decades. I loved it.

The Revenge however doesn’t live up to this pedigree. There is less of the verve and vigour, and more dour, moral lessons about revenge and forgiveness.

Set in the Edwardian era, spunky young Mimi runs away from the abuse and poverty at home to join a travelling theatre troupe who tour the music halls. She discovers a knack for performing and forms a tight friendship with Betsy, the company beauty. The two girls fall out, setting the tone for the next 60 years as they feud across career, continents and families.

And it certainly feels the full 60 years- this is a LONG book. Which is fine- the theatrical shenanigans are great, with some brilliant characters and plot lines. Its only in the latter parts of the novel where the emphatic repetition of how bad revenge is that my interest begins to wane. In my opinion, fictional revenge is best served fiery or icy, not a warm medium.

Read: Lace instead.

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