Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
|Withering Tights by Louise Rennison|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A great start to a new series, with a drama school setting, and another heroine struggling with lack of boys and self-censorship|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: July 2010|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books|
After killing off Georgia Nicolson in a blaze of hedonism and vampires, it's time for Louise Rennison to start a new series, with a new teenage girl's first-person narrative. This time it's one Tallulah Casey, a lanky girl worried about her knees and underdeveloped cleavage, and off to stay at a posh drama performance workshop centre in the wilds of Yorkshire.
OK, there was a slight untruth about the opening line above, but it's indicative of how much we have been come to know what to expect of books such as Stop in the Name of Pants!. Here's another girl heroine with a perfect ability to show herself up in the most embarrassing of circumstances of high comedy. Here she is again surrounded by three guys - one in a band, just to make a change - and she is tasked with finding out which one is most likely to see past her awkward nature and give her much-cherished kissing lessons. Here is also a typically atypical idiom - but instead of all the neologisms of old, we have as-old-as-possible "gadzooks", and "crikey Moses"es.
But it's brilliant to see how fresh Tallulah instantly is. She manages to fit right into the template, and also sound nothing like Georgia. She is, it turns out early on, a cousin, and slightly younger at fourteen and a half, but she's much more descriptive, mature in her considerations of the Yorkshire desolation that surrounds her, and able to expand muchly on her world. She's surrounded by characters, and not people identified by over-repetition of one detail (flicky hair, flicky hair...)
And while before we were in Eastbourne (possibly without knowing, until the film came out at least), and in a diary format that got us fully into the actions and moods of a narrator with a fine line in sarcasm, comedic timing and quick wit, here we have something very different. With Tallulah being more literary, less concerned with being herself against all odds in every paragraph, her world is more fully realised and is all the richer for it. The plot is mired in the obvious - but not as obvious as before - but much more balanced between great scenes from the drama workshops and Tallulah's private life.
This is definitely recognisable as Louise Rennison but is such a great leap forward from her other umpteen books. Now if someone could stop Tallulah from switching so jarringly from past to present tense in the same paragraph so often, one of these girls would have got five stars.
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