Saturday, February 17, 2018

Book Review: 'Being Shirley' by Michelle Vernal

New Zealand author Michelle Vernal writes novels, articles for magazines, and also serves as local newspaper reporter. That she owns a fine tuned sense of humor and a healthy outlook on relationships is evident in the four books she has written to date – THE BRAZILIAN JOB, SECOND HAND JANE, BEING SHIRLEY and THE TRAVELLER’S DAUGHTER. For an inside peek at the way Michelle peaks at life read her bio on her author page – it is as fine as a novella!

The term ‘chick lit’ is bantered around a lot these days, with proponents and opponents, but sit in a coffee shop and listen to the chatter and stories passed along and it is that kind of fun life loving subject matter that is captured in books that are especially appealing to women – romance, humor, being a bit naughty, and being very wild with subject matter and flights of fancy.

Michelle has mastered this form of literature as s evident in her email Prologue: we find out more about personalities of people who will become prominent characters just be sneaking a look at the following: ‘To: Kassia Bikakis From: Annie Rivers Subject: Hello! Hi Kas: Sorry I have been so slack in replying to your last email. I know you always worry when you don’t hear from me since the earthquakes but there have been no big aftershocks for a while— touch wood. I don’t have any decent excuses for not writing sooner either, only that it is coming up to that time of the year again and well, you know what I get like. It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty years. Twenty whole years! Gone just like that. It feels like yesterday sometimes and then other times it seems like a lifetime ago. You know, when I look around me these days, I realise that Roz wouldn’t even recognise Christchurch anymore. I think it’s true that saying, time really doesn’t stand still for anyone. Speaking of which, I can’t believe you are going to be a big proper grown-up of thirty-nine on Saturday either. I hope you get thoroughly spoiled by your lovely boys. Thanks by the way for letting me know your parcel arrived okay— hope you like it. Carl and I will do our usual to mark the day.’

The rest is girl talk mixed with some philosophy on marriage, Greece, contemporary New Zealand, and the memories and associations of the film ‘Shirley Valentine’ tossed together with a keep warm sense of humor and joie de vivre. Maybe this is chick lit but it such fun that many men will find reading this book a pleasure – and learn a few things about the feminine psyche! Grady Harp, January 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.