A Bouquet of Barbed Wire by Andrea Newman
|A Bouquet of Barbed Wire by Andrea Newman|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: The infamous story of a father's possessive love for his daughter is shocking, if anything, for how tame it seems today.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 336||Date: September 2010|
|Publisher: Serpent's Tail|
For those of you who've never heard of it, A Bouquet of Barbed Wire was most famous as a landmark 70's TV series based on this 1969 novel by Andrea Newman. I'd never read the book before - in fact I'm not even sure I knew there was a book - or seen the TV series but I was aware of the controversy it created at the time of release so lapped up the chance to read the rerelease, accompanying the remake of the TV series which has just started.
A very quick rundown of the protagonists - middle-aged publisher Peter seems happily married to his wife Cassie, but is fiercely protective - and possessive - of his daughter Prue, who's just got married to American Gavin at the start of the novel. It's clear to everyone, including Gavin and Prue, that Peter is far more interested in Prue than he should be and that his anger over the marriage goes beyond his dislike of Gavin and into sexual jealousy.
This should be dynamite stuff, surely. A hugely taboo subject, a seemingly nice middle-class family, and then the affairs start...
And yet, it's all surprisingly tame. I thought it started off really well, with the small cast - the four referred to above, Peter's two secretaries, and one of his friends being the only significant characters - all being well developed, and was settling into it getting ready for the shocking parts... but things go downhill quite quickly. The shocking parts are simultaneously shocking in what happens (sorry, am trying not to give too much away here!) and disconcertingly uninteresting because at the halfway point or so, people seem to turn into cardboard cutouts. The most guilty of this by a long way is Prue's mother Cassie, who just changes ridiculously. At the start of the novel, she seems to be a reasonably normal lady, and there's one particular scene with Gavin which rang so untrue that it made me completely lose interest in the rest of the book.
It's also incredibly unexplicit - given the amount of sex and taboo-breaking that's going on, somewhat surprising. I'm struggling to see who the appeal is for - the overall subject and its notoriety will put many people off, but the writing style will mean that it's unlikely to appeal to people looking for thrills.
And yet, as I said above, the first half, at least, is really well written. Certainly deserving of a better second half than the one it gets.
Worth checking out if you're keen to see what all the fuss was about, I suppose, but hard to recommend on its own merits.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: For a sinful pleasure which does rather a better job of delivering (you won't believe how many puns I've resisted there because I'm not sure they're suitable for the site!) I'd like to put forward The Isle of Dogs by Daniel Davies.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Bouquet of Barbed Wire by Andrea Newman at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy A Bouquet of Barbed Wire by Andrea Newman at Amazon.com.
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