Everything You Ever Wanted by Rosalind Wyllie

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Everything You Ever Wanted by Rosalind Wyllie

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: A psychological character study cum sex-industry thriller, this novel defies genre classifications but it's an enjoyable, fast paced book that shows skill, passion and promise. The characters have well differentiated voices and the time and place are evoked well. Recommended.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 352 Date: August 2008
Publisher: Tonto Books
ISBN: 978-0955632631

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It's the summer of 1991 and the terrible Bryan Adams' Everything I Do is everywhere. Tiggy is living a shadowy half-life between her married lover, her vodka bottle, her friendship with Dan the pianist, monthly lunches with her father (who thinks she works as a waitress) and her job as a stripper in a Mayfair club, where as Viola Viola, she's every woman they have ever dreamt of [who] will do things they didn't even know they wanted. Everything changes when Scarlett, one of the hostesses in the club moves in with Tiggy after being thrown out of her B&B.

The book is narrated in the first person and alternates between the girls, both wonderfully unreliable narrators. Wyllie gives her characters very well differentiated, individual voices and realises them through their thoughts, reminiscences and observations about the world (and each other). Her writing is confident and convincing.

Scarlett's arrival at Tiggy's flat and her grand plan nearing completion start the fast plot of the novel moving, but it's the contrast and the dynamic of the relationship between the girls which truly powers Everything You Ever Wanted.

Scarlett is young and beautiful, and uses her beauty and The Tits, which are her main asset, to get exactly what she wants from the punters. Tiggy is also attractive and strips for a living (or is it really the reason she does it?). But despite working in the same club and sharing a flat, they couldn't be more different: Tiggy speaks posh and receives a cheque from her father every month, believes in love, wants nothing but to be loved, can't stop grieving for her mother who left the family when Tiggy was fourteen and is waiting for her older, married lover (who used to be her teacher in a boarding school) to leave his wife. Summarily, Tiggy is one of the most unbearably annoying, privileged cows to wallow in the pond of self pity I have ever met in fiction: and all the better for it. I found it difficult not to wish something horrible to happen to her in the dark underbelly of the sex industry she, rather naively (and still without taking her knickers off) inhabits. She does, mercifully, improves a bit towards the end of the novel, which, I suppose, is one of the points of the whole exercise.

Scarlett is as far from Sloaney origins of Tiggy as possible: out of a council estate, away from a mother who hardly provided any mothering, she's confident, cynical, utterly selfish and she has, as I mentioned before, a grand plan she's working towards. With £95k in the bank and punters keen to pay for extra services once out of the club, Scarlett is well on the way to making it. She doesn't believe in love (and she doesn't enjoy sex): she wants money, power and control. I really enjoyed reading Scarlett's sections: her observations are cynical and perceptive, her voice convincing, her quips sharp and her cynical humour very funny. Despite being, in some fundamental way, more damaged and, obviously, much more ruthless than Tiggy, Scarlett was smart, was funny and a clear survivor: I couldn't help rooting for her and I worried that she might get, eventually, sacrificed on the way to Tiggy's happiness in 'normal' life, away from strip clubs, punters and prostitutes.

You need to read to book to see whether (and which) of the girls get what they wanted and whether (and which) of them get their comeuppance. I classified Everything You Ever Wanted in the 'Women's Fiction' category of the Bookbag, for lack of better place, and because I suspect that majority of those who will read (and even more so, enjoy) this novel will be female. But Everything You Ever Wanted defies clear genre classifications: it certainly is not an AGA-saga, a bodice-ripper or even chick-lit.

But regardless of that (or maybe because of that), it's an enjoyable book that shows skill, passion and promise - it's worth looking out for new books by Rosalind Wyllie and I will be quite intrigued to see whether she'll veer nearer genre fiction (imagine a progeny of Anna Maxted and Martina Cole) or aim for so called mainstream. Recommended.

Thanks go the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.

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Buy Everything You Ever Wanted by Rosalind Wyllie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Everything You Ever Wanted by Rosalind Wyllie at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Everything You Ever Wanted by Rosalind Wyllie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Everything You Ever Wanted by Rosalind Wyllie at Amazon.com.


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