Jun. 24th, 2017

qatsi: (penguin)
Book Review: Nice Work (If You Can Get It), by Celia Imrie
I enjoyed the recent TV series Our Friend Victoria, at least as much as one can enjoy an extended obituary: there's something about Victoria Wood's work that leaves you feeling uplifted even if the subject itself isn't cheery. I get a similar feeling from Eric Coates' music. I'd seen publicity for this book somewhere, and when I saw the book in the work book sale it was an easy decision to give it a go. I was curious to see how Imrie would fare as an author, and also to see whether it had a similar vein to Wood, and it felt like appropriate holiday reading.

I enjoyed the book, and it did feel a bit like reading something by Wood; not in an imitative way, but just in the sense that they were part of a team that obviously shared some common ground (although I have the impression that Wood was the sole writer for her TV shows). This turns out to be number two in a series by Imrie, but there is no need to have read the previous volume as the characters and their situation are explained straight away. The book is set in Bellevue-sur-Mer, a small French town somewhere near Nice (hence the book's playful title) and Cannes. Our heroes are a set of British ex-pats, who have decided to set up a restaurant in the town, mostly for the purpose of keeping themselves occupied. The story follows their trials and tribulations, through French bureaucracy, Russian oligarchs, Sardinian Mafia, and the expats' own dysfunctional friends and family, including minor and major actresses descending for the Cannes Film Festival and behaving theatrically.

Two things make the book a bit tricky: there is a relatively large cast, and it's sometimes a bit difficult to remember who is who, and what their relationship is to the core of four people setting up the restaurant. Inevitably, from time to time I imagined the characters portrayed by the cast of Wood's shows, which was a little awkward, as Duncan Preston took all the male roles. The second thing is that sometimes the plot moves on a bit jerkily, with a paragraph or two summarising quite a large leap forwards. It is perhaps the sort of thing you wouldn't really notice in a film or TV programme, but it can feel a little clunky in print. But neither of these things prevented me from enjoying the book and confidently adding its predecessor to my to-read list.


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