Sadomasochism for Accountants by Rosy Barnes

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Sadomasochism for Accountants by Rosy Barnes

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Trish Simpson-Davis
Reviewed by Trish Simpson-Davis
Summary: Paula visits Club Liscious to refute her ex's charge of being sexually boring. The gang there decide to help her to win back Alan with a James Bond-style kidnap. Great ideas and visual humour dispatch so many stereotypes in this chick lit parody, but ultimately, my chuckles weren't enough to give this comic novel more than three stars.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: February 2009
Publisher: Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd
ISBN: 978-0-7145-3181-6

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Humour's very personal, isn't it? If you dig films like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I predict you'll love this chick lit parody. It's anarchic and very British comedy tradition. If you're into the conventions of good writing, you may find it a little painful. Nevertheless, I enjoyed plenty of moments in Rosy Barnes' first novel.

The humour in Sadomasochism for Accountants is highly visual, as the book moves from one hilarious set piece to the next. Chapter One opens with the heroine, Paula, perched in the back garden tree of her ex. Alan, an accountant, has fallen for a career-girl Cruella de Ville called Belinda. Paula doesn't get far stalking them, but in no time at all she's pressed against Alan's mantelpiece wall, wreaking her revenge as a piece of naked interactive art in front of his boss. Rosy Barnes' sharp wit dispatches bald-headed men, accountants, weddings, computer geeks and other anoraks, speed dating in Church Halls, the God Squad, businesswomen, office gossip, nights out with the boys … and that's all before Paula reaches the doors of Club Liscious.

The author does full justice to the book's full-on title with the description of the club's atmosphere, exotica and inhabitants, like transvestite Luda, who is pure pantomime dame. Paula even finds herself indulging in a clever nose job, as she discovers how to spice up her boring sex life (I take it you are considering reading this book because you are a) fairly broad-minded or b) a teenager).

Paula slips into the characterful fetish and 'trannie' world but her drab inconspicuity makes her stand out like a sore thumb. Eventually Paula enlists the help of the club's 'A' team to persuade Alan to ditch Belinda and return to his true love. This part of the story is like a French farce, what with the intrigues, misunderstandings and characters appearing and disappearing through numerous doors. When the group set out to kidnap Alan in James Bond style, the scene is set for a rumbustious climax, which I think would make great screen footage. I'd love to see what Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg would make of this book as a screenplay.

I didn't enjoy the writing nearly as much. Rosy Barnes uses the omniscient viewpoint extensively. The asides provided by the intermediary author-figure are more of a barrier than a comic effect. Consequently, I felt quite disconnected from the characters, especially in the early part of the novel.

Clearly, comedy pokes fun at stereotypes, but be prepared for parody as savage as Ricky Gervais or Rik Mayall. Only the Man in the Mask has 'twinkling eyes' and 'nice hands' – the sole words of approbation I could find applied to any character. After a while, I disliked the omniscient presence's sneering remarks and began to feel sorry for the characters, who were trying their hardest. On stage, comic characters often speak satiric volumes with a raised eyebrow or a shrug of the shoulder. With a drama-based career to date, I didn't feel Rosy Barnes has yet found the novel-writer's equivalent.

I was also disconcerted when Paula's character wavered. In the first scene, Paula is impressively prepared for a night in a tree with food, sleeping bag and mobile phone; as resourceful and feisty as any heroine. I finished the first chapter wanting to read more. Subsequently, Paula deteriorates into a wishy-washy figure. The other characters continually have to bail her out with plans and suggestions, only to find that she's had a change of heart, anyway. To satisfy the reader, heroines need to do a little more than that.

I'll look forward to more from this lively and clever lady, though I suspect Rosy Barnes' name will come up in tv and film credits before she reaches the best-seller lists.

The Bookbag would like to thank the author for sending this book.

Suggestions for Further Reading: Two recent comic reads which impressed the reviewers of Bookbag Towers were Don't Be Needy Be Succeedy by L Vaughan Spencer and Sartre's Sink: The Great Writers' Complete Book of DIY by Mark Crick.

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Buy Sadomasochism for Accountants by Rosy Barnes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sadomasochism for Accountants by Rosy Barnes at


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