Monday, November 27, 2006


Finally. Finally, I have finished Wicked! by Jilly Cooper, after something like a month and a half. That's the longest, by a huge margin, it has ever taken me to read a Jilly Cooper. I think it's the longest it's ever taken me to finish any book. Usually, I would have figured I just wasn't that into it and given up before now. To be fair, it's the first Jilly Cooper book I've read since becoming a mother and discovering blogging and nablopomo. But still, I'm thinking it just wasn't as good as her earlier books (except Pandora, I really didn't like that one... even so I finished it in a coupla weeks or less I think). I almost didn't bother with the last 30 pages (I mean I'd made it through 800), but I'm glad I stuck with it. Otherwise I would have missed the Royal Wee, when a statue of a horse appears to pee and pee and pee at the Queen's visit. I also laughed at the bathroom that was constructed just for the Queen's visit, dubbed the Roylet.

But I did enjoy it. It was kinda like Degrassi: The Next Generation for fans of her earlier books. But I found myself thinking it was some kind of allegory or retelling of some classical mythology that I just wasn't getting. There are tons of quotes and allusions to English literature, many of which I had no clue about, and she often describes the characters in animalistic terms. Things like, "Russell, whom Janna could still only think of as Babar, king of the elephants and head of the Tusk Foce, was at his most portentous." And a woman "who had a lot of teeth like a crocodile whose mother had failed to make it wear a brace."

Her descriptions are at times fantastically evocative like his "evil, sallow, pasty face was disintegrating like goat's cheese in liquid," "his handsome regular features were somehow blurred like soap left too long in the bath," and the care manager of a children's home, "who sounded bullying and humourless and who had a thick clogged voice like leftover lumpy porridge not going down the plughole." I think maybe there's just a bit too much of it?

But there were several character I really cared about and Cooper's great at developing a totally flawed character you can still love. And she made me want to reread Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility (which I read when I was like 12 or 14 or something... a long long time ago anyways), because Rupert Campbell-Black, one of her original flawed but lovable characters (after Jake and Riders of course... I hated Rupert in Riders) comes to really enjoy them.

So, in case I forget, I would next like to read those two, and also Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. That sounds kind of neat. Oh -- and I think I saw that a new Fiona Walker is coming out in December, just in time for our flight to South Africa in January. I'm scared of flying, so I always try to reward myself with a new Fiona Walker when I fly. Although I doubt I'll have much chance to read with Swee'pea accompanying us. Ugh. Starting to get horribly nervous when I think about the flight. Sometime I may tell you where my fear of flying came from, but not now because I think Swee'pea may wake up soon.

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