Rich Girl, Poor Girl

| 10 January , 2010 | Reply

Guest Editor, Jane Rowley

Big hair and even bigger shoulder pads – in the 1980\’s everything was bigger and glitzier including television drama.  It was the era of Dallas and the almighty mini-series.  Nicole Kidman got her big break in Bangkok Hilton and Pierce Brosnan melted hearts as a Hong Kong kingpin in Noble House.

If you missed out the first time round then pick up a copy of Lesley Lokko\’s blockbuster, Rich Girl, Poor Girl.  It is the literary equivalent of a mini-series. There\’s the requisite girl with a glamorous lifestyle, heartless villains with money, privilege and power; a vindictive ‘superbitch\’ (personified by Joan Collins in Dallas), an underdog to root for and a collection of stereotypical misfits.

The publishing world refers to these books as ‘glamour books\’ and Lokko has embraced the genre.   Her first novel, Sundowners, was published in the 1980\’s, perfect timing for a generation raised on event entertainment.  Sundowners became a bestseller and now Lesley Lokko satisfies her established fan base with her fourth ‘glittering saga\’, Rich Girl, Poor Girl.

Lokko uses her own life experience as a springboard into her fictional worlds and luckily for us she\’s had a colourful life.  Born in Scotland, her father was Ghanain and her mother Scottish.  She was educated in Ghana, the US and the UK and she now has homes in Africa and England.  Blossoming from her life experience are her characters; Nic, the daughter of a billionaire South African mining entrepreneur, Caryn, disadvantaged in almost every way with the exception of her brilliant mind and Tory, a middleclass outcast because of her murdered sister.  The three girls meet at a posh private school in London and soon realise their common weirdness binds them together and they become friends.

Thus begins the sweeping saga as the girls grow, learn and love.  It\’s not quite Sex in the City but they do get to bonk (that\’s an eighties word!) their fare share of attractive men.  Of course, this is a ‘glamour book\’ so enter the interloper, Estelle, a beautiful girl disadvantaged by her mixed race heritage who\’s in possession of a powerful secret. She\’ll stop at nothing (of course) to reach her own goals; that is, power, money and sex, whilst humiliating and destroying the girls to whom she has taken an extreme dislike.

Although Rich Girl, Poor Girl holds no surprises when it comes to plot and many of the characters only hint at greater depth, in particular, Nic\’s father, Jim Harte,  the ruthless magnate and Estelle, the working girl fast-tracking herself to oblivion; Lokko\’s descriptive writing does brighten the 471 page monolith.  So if you\’re taking a holiday anytime soon and fail to get seated next to a gorgeous, complicated, needy millionaire suffering from short-term amnesia on the plane then retrieve your copy of Rich Girl, Poor Girl from your carry on luggage and join three girls whose every waking moment is a soap opera.

Available now:  Hachette RRP$32.99


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