Plenty of fashion but not enough passion

THE oft-repeated advice to novelists is to write about what you know.

And there's no doubt Maggie Alderson knows about the world of fashion writing, having previously been the editor of several magazines, including British Elle.

She also has experience of the emotional heartache brought on by being a working mother in a demanding job - with the associated guilt.

So it's no surprise that those particular sections of Everything Changes But You were the strongest.

An impossibly beautiful couple, Hannah, an English beauty writer, and Matt, an Australian struggling songwriter and part-time model, decide to give up their funky inner-city Sydney lifestyle for London, where Hannah lands a glamorous and demanding job as beauty editor for a popular website.

Fast-forward a few years and with a couple of kids, Hannah loses her job and the couple moves to the English countryside to be near Hannah's parents, Marguerite and Charlie.

Matt's Sydney cousin Ali (also gorgeous) is an exotic dancer with a first-class university degree (yep, a stripper with a heart of gold) and a hankering to visit London.

Their lives all intermesh and weave in and out with each other in various different emotional and practical crises.

It took a while for this book to get into its stride. While Alderson has skill enough as a writer to make you care about her characters, there were several issues she raised she didn't deal with convincingly.

I suspect she wanted to ask questions about different sorts of love and the boundaries of infidelity and loyalty, but it was all a bit too neat and tidy for me.

She also labours the point about the differences between Australian and English attitudes (Alderson is an Englishwoman living in Australia), with the Poms portrayed as repressed and the Aussies as overly open, which is anything but original.

This wasn't a bad book - it just wasn't great. Alderson needs to take a bolder approach to editing and get back to snappy and funny writing.

There are hundreds of chick-lit books that have glamorous magazines as a setting and impossibly beautiful and successful characters, but not many authors in the genre who have the ability to really make a reader laugh out loud.

 Books reviewed are available at the Book Warehouse in Lismore

Title: Everything Changes But You

Author: Maggie Alderson


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