by Beverley Eveleigh-Bell, contemporary (2007)
Lulu, $20.95, ISBN 978-1-84799-053-2
Torn is an old-school love story between a comparatively ordinary woman, Lucy Weston, and the wealthy businessman Marcus Delacroix. She's 33 to his mid-forties or early fifties. They first encounter each other in the Toulouse airport when their flight are delayed and they end up having a drink together while waiting. She's leaving for London to sort out her life after the end of a love affair and he offers a perfect distraction, a pleasant and handsome one to boot, during the flight delay. But one thing leads to another, of course, and Lucy finds herself swept up into the glitz and luxury that is Marcus' lifestyle. But while Lucy is falling for Marcus, he seems to want only a son from her. Love doesn't seem to be play any part in his wanting a relationship with her.
And by calling Torn "old school", I have in mind those Judith Krantz novels in the 1980s about the lifestyles of the rich and famous when I make that comparison. Torn doesn't have the sexual excesses of those campy stories, but it has nonetheless a similar cast of characters in a plot revolving around the sweet ordinary girl thrust into the lifestyle of the sleazy rich and famous. And even if I did mention "love story" in the first paragraph of this review, take note that the "romance" in this story does not follow the formula of a romance novel. Marcus sleeps with other women in this story even after he's had sex wth Lucy.
I don't buy the romance here, to be honest. The author relies on a clichéd turn of event to reunite Marcus and Lucy towards the end long after they have drifted apart to other people, and this turn of event makes the reunion seem out of necessity rather than love. Because Ms Eveleigh-Bell allows me so little glimpse into Marcus' head, Marcus comes off like a sleazy old man of dubious character looking for a trophy wife who can give him a son rather than a gentlemanly catch. Because Lucy and Marcus decide to give it another go at the end, I'm supposed to root for them, but alas, there is little about Marcus that is worth rooting for, in my opinion.
While I am not sure what the author is trying to do with her "love story", her writing is fine except for her reliance on gimmicky points-of-view from various secondary characters to relay thinly-veiled exposition material to the reader. For example, Ms Eveleigh-Bell on page 10 of the story suddenly introduces me to the thoughts of an anonymous air stewardess as this air stewardess observes the interactions between Marcus and Lucy on the plane. This air stewardess is never seen again after that scene. The abrupt introduction of such switches in points-of-view disrupts the flow of the story every time it is used.
Torn seems like a story, er, torn between wanting to cynically expose the working of a decadent privileged society, something that the likes of Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins had done to death back in the 1980s, and wanting to tell a love story. Because the love story is an unconvincing one, I can't help wondering whether the book would have worked better if the author concludes the story by having Lucy walk off into the sunset with the other fellow who also wanted to marry her.
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