Alice Little And The Big Girl's Blouse
by Maggie Gibson, contemporary (2000)
Victor Gollancz, 6.99, ISBN 0-575-06788-8


Hmm, I learn new things everyday. The Big Girl's Blouse in the book title refers to Conor, the gay friend of the heroine Alice. Is that what they call gay men nowadays in England?

Anyway, Alice isn't a happy woman. She has just been given the sack from her fashion designer job after she lost it and yelled at her sexually-harassing-her and taking-all-credit-for-her-work boss, "Stuff your fucking job, you oily, lecherous, mutant midget!" one fine morning. Now she is being evicted from her room (no rent money forthcoming) and her ex-boss is making sure that no other fashion house will dare take her on.

But Conor, the stereotypical every-woman's-friend he is, offers Alice a job as a waitress in his boyfriend Hector's eatery called the Samovar. A bit of a demotion considering her former job, but still...

Then things get complicated. Hector needs a green card - will Alice marry him for half of Samovar? When the mob boss gets into the picture, Alice and Conor soon find themselves caught in some sort of amateur, cheap Tarantino movie.

Alice Little And The Big Girl's Blouse starts out funny. Alice isn't the usual I Need A Man - Any Man - NOW!!! loser women typical of mainstream women's fiction - she is, in fact, intelligent and capable. I like her, she's a fine heroine who does her craziest best to rise above the smelly stuff life throws at her. Conor is the typical gay best friend, right down to all the expected stereotypical behavior, however.

But this book really goes down the drain when it tries to incorporate crime antics and double-crossing. These elements don't gel, and finally, it is so disappointing to see that the happy ending is achieved more by luck (and a whip-wielding dominatrix) than anything on Alice and Conor's part.

But hey, not bad, not bad at all.

Rating: 77


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