Lace – Shirly Conran [SPOILERS]

Our Fifth #TsundokuSquad monthly book (May) was ‘Lace’ by Shirly Conran. This was the third book we’ve read as a group. We all read this book on the kindle and split the book into four parts.

Week 1 – 6th March

So the prelude was a horrifying and graphic scene which took most of us by surprise (should definitely have a trigger warning on it!)

We were pleasantly surprised by the feminist messages throughout and all of us were keen to see where the girls go in life. We all loved the strong female friendships.

We have non idea where the storyline is going but this suspense is welcomed.

The story doesn’t feel as dated as we were expecting but then this makes sense as to why it’s release was such a big deal in the 80s, and it being so forward.

We had a conversation about how great it was to see the brutal honesty around losing your virginity and perceptions surrounding this.

Funny words in sexual places made us giggle – not the desired effect I’m sure.

Most of us first time are readers of this book and are pleasantly surprised so far… Only bit that anyone wasn’t 100% gripped too was the skiing bit (and the horrifying prelude which I personally read peaking through my fingers). We all noted that there was perhaps less sex that we were expecting so far…

I personally was struggling in places to keep up with the different characters just due to the way it’s written, and the style but I think I’ll get used to it as it goes on! Others from the group really liked that it was written this way, so it’s just down to perception…

Our words for this weeks part can be summed up below but in summary we are all currently enjoying this fast paced, secret filled start to the story. Current ratings have six people at a 4/5 and one person at a 5/5/

Week 2

We all enjoyed Judy’s part of the story in particular. her relationships with guy and the narrative surrouding Paris fashion industry was very engaging. We also enjoyed Maxine’s part of the story although we are collectively not a fan of Charles and likened him a little to Christian Gray.

I again, was personally finding it difficult to follow in places as the timelines didn’t always match up but again this didn’t factor for some others of the group.

Sex featured a little more in this section of the book once that latest FOUR HOURS – ouch! and another alongside the history of champagne making! Very raunchy, which some enjoyed and other cringed at.

The frame ‘warm musky female odour’ will stay with me forever.

We are all liking Aunt Hortense more now… we feel she is a very strong female character who has grown on us since the beginning.

I’d personally prefer a faster paced book as would a couple of the others. We felt we could have done without knowing all the details surprising the Hungarian history or the champagne making. It’s a bit Conran did the research and didn’t want to waste it…

and importantly,, this week we also agreed we all hate the word ‘buttock’!

Our words for this week can be seen below and our ratings based on this week are 2 people have gone with a 3/4, 2 with the rest ratings as a a 4/5. A slight dip from the first week, we’re interested to see how it develops.

Week 3

We all found Lilli’s story particularly hard to read. We missed Judy this week and weren’t impressed with the boring passages on the middle east.

We also wondered if Conran was deliberately trying to be controversial? We didn’t like the appearance of the fish and what it was being used for AT ALL!

This part of the book started to feel a bit more slow moving and I personally don’t really feel much towards the story. I’m also getting confused with the format; shifting characters and timescales again but as you’ve seen this has been a theme all the way through for me and others are having no trouble with it.

Aunt Hortense after getting into our good books last week surprised us this week with her stance towards adultery which shocked us a little and has yet again changed our opinion of her.

We have noted that after the first couple of weeks thinking that the book wasn’t as dated as we thought that this week you could really see that it hasn’t aged well at all. We also noted that it’s not necessarily well written either, despite lots of the group still thoroughly enjoying it.

Our main drive and focus is towards just want to finding out who the mum is… we also hope there’s a little more coming too. We’re happy it’s keeping us guessing and we haven’t figured it out or have any ideas at all really. The mumps story might be a cover to throw us off the scent but we’re really clutching at straws.

We had an interesting conversation about our frames of reference having being born in different decades across the group and how it might be influencing how we feel in response to parts of the book.

Our words for this week are as below, we had me at a 2/5, three people as a 3.5/5 and three as a 3.5/5.

Week 4

Personally I’ve started to skim read lots of the book now. I’m finding it unengaging and difficult to stay interested. One person has DNF’d the book and a few confirmed they are also skim reading which is actually a bit of a shame but it’s clearly losing us a little….

We did ‘enjoy’ Kate’s part of the story, although that isn’t the right word. We all felt for her and her struggles.

Some of us actually felt this part was more interesting though as we learnt more about Kate and Judy also made a re-appearance who we really missed last week.

Overall we agreed it was a little dis-jointed and wordy, with seemingly random things being chucked in without too much rhyme or reason. We did not expect LACE to stand for that acronym (you’ll have to read it to find out… or google it).

We noted that all the men are not tickling our fancy but we are still really enjoying the theme of strong female friendships. Which shouldn’t be surprising seems as were a group of fantastic strong women.

Our main hope for the final remaining part of the book is to simply find out who the mum is. We want Pagan and Abdi to get together and for Lilli to be happy.

One thing to note from reading this book so far is the wonderful conversations it has promoted without our group. We had a great discussion around Toby’s transvestitism, how it made us feel, those perceptions and society. It has opened lots of conversations that I dare say wouldn’t normally happen. This book does approach some hearty and heavy topics which have been a joy to discuss with such a great group of women.

Our words for this week are as below, we had me again at a 2/5, four people at a 3/5, one person as a 3.5 and one person as a 4/5. Interesting to see what we all feel at the end, no doubt I’ll be bringing our group average down – again! (sorry!)

Week 5/Final Week

We were not expecting that ending, the mum, or the dad. The epilogue also was enlightening! Some of us skim read, some DNF’d before the end and others really enjoyed it! A book that really divided us.

I don’t want to give away who the mum and dad are, despite this review containing all kinds of other spoilers as this was the main and only point of the book for most of us – so if you want to know you’ll have to give it a Google!

The whole book felt like a crazy, disjointed, 80’s sitcom with drama and problematic topics coming out of its ears.

One theme that was seen as a golden thread throughout the story, was the strong female friendships! This was the one element that we all enjoyed and all agreed on.

At the end of this book we spent some time reflecting on what we felt overall in regards to the problematic content! There is a whole host of elements throughout this book which come with a heavy serving of trigger warnings (if you want more information on this please let me know). We were split in opinion over these aspects. Some of the group thought the good outweighed the bad and that they could push past it, others struggled to get past the way the topics were written about! We all acknowledged that the issues are important and should be spoken about but for some of us the way it was written didn’t sit right!

Our words for this week and the book overall are as below, we had very split opinions on the book overall. We had one 1/5, two 2/5, one 3/5, one 3.5/5, and three 4/5.

Overall this leaves the average group rating as a 3/5!

Our overall group rating: 3/5

My individual rating: 2/5

As always, this is our varied views on this book. You may love this book, you may hate this book – the only way to find out is to read it (if you want!)

…our June book is ‘The Tattoo Thief’ by Alison Belsham! So keep your eyes peeled for our thoughts on that one!

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