Lace by Shirley Conran

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Lace by Shirley Conran

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Thrity years after it was first published it's still a good beach read. You might leave it in the hotel afterwards but you won't have been able to put it down whilst you were reading.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 760 Date: July 1982
Publisher: Canongate Books
ISBN: 978-0857863904

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Lili might be young but she's a superstar and she's used to getting what she wants. She's just summoned Judy, Kate, Maxine and Pagan to her suite in Manhattan's most exclusive hotel. They might be at the top of their professions - Fashion, PR and interior design but it's Lili who holds the whip hand here. She has a simple request:

Which one of you bitches is my mother?

OK - it's something of a showstopper line, isn't it? It paves the way for a story about the lives of the four women and their excesses, which date back to their school days. Whatever else they are the women have always been fast friends (perhaps in more than one sense...) and Conran is particularly good at depicting female friendship without seeming to need friendships to sink to catfight levels by the end of the book. She makes the most of the contrasts between the privileged lives of the four women and the life which Lili led - abandoned and exploited but ultimately successful. It is a great page-turning story. It's not great literature - by any stretch of the imagination - but then great literature is not always what you want.

Looking back now it is formulaic - there's the woman who isn't wealthy in her own right but married into wealth. There's another who suffers from feeling of inadequacy. There's a foreigner. There's royalty. There's scandal (by the truckload) and unwanted pregnancy at a time when it was not yet the accepted norm to have babies outside marriage. Thirty years ago this was all quite new to us - Lace was the book which gave birth to the word 'bonkbuster' and it paved the way for a lot of books which are arguably better reads - such as Jilly Cooper (her Rutshire Chronicles books came four years later) - or which were written by Jackie Collins. (Well, if you can't be bitchy when you're reviewing this book, when can you?)

It's now thirty years since the original publication and it was Conran's debut novel. We already knew her from her non-fiction Superwoman which had been daring in its own way as it was aimed at the working woman and the friendly advice went as far as to suggest that working women might have fun in addition to a job and a home. Is Lace still relevant? I'm not certain that it ever was relevant, but it is still a good story.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag. When Lace was first published I was old enough to read it openly but young enough to find it all rather exciting. For the modern equivalent you might like to try Fifty Shades Of Grey by EL James.

Buy Lace by Shirley Conran at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lace by Shirley Conran at

Buy Lace by Shirley Conran at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lace by Shirley Conran at


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