Wednesday, January 02, 2013

A New Year! A New Review! (The Chocolate Money by Ashley Prentice Norton)

Hi, everyone! I am sorry that I haven't been around that much, but I needed to "unplug" from the internet and technology for a while. It was time to recharge. But, it is now a new year and tomorrow it is back to work for me. I feel ready to take on new challenges and projects and feel a lot of creative energy right now. (Wow. I just sounded like a horoscope. Geez.)

Anyway, speaking of challenges, I didn't quite make my goal of 50 books for my 2012 Goodreads challenge. That is fine, though, because I finished my dissertation and graduated. :)

I did join the 2013 Goodreads challenge, because  now I can actually read what I want (for the most part...I do have some projects that require me to read certain things). So, even though I didn't meet my last goal, I upped my book goal to 75. This means that I won't be reading a lot of really long books, of course, but I am determined to succeed!

I actually have already read one book: The Chocolate Money by Ashley Prentice Norton.

From Amazon.com:

Set in 1980s Chicago and on the East Coast, this electric debut chronicles the relationship between an impossibly rich chocolate heiress, Babs Ballentyne, and her sensitive and bookish young daughter, Bettina. Babs plays by no one’s rules: naked Christmas cards, lavish theme parties with lewd installations at her Lake Shore Drive penthouse, nocturnal visits from her married lover, who “admires her centerfold” while his wife sleeps at their nearby home.

Bettina wants nothing more than to win her mother’s affection and approval, both of which prove elusive. When she escapes to an elite New Hampshire prep school, Bettina finds that her unorthodox upbringing makes it difficult to fit in with her peers, one of whom happens to be the son of Babs’s lover. As she struggles to forge an identity apart from her mother, Bettina walks a fine line between self-preservation and self-destruction.

As funny as it is scandalous, The Chocolate Money is Mommie Dearest, Prep, and 50 Shades of Gray all rolled into one compulsively readable book.
PS: As for that last sentence...yeah...maybe it is like Mommie Dearest and Prep, but don't buy this expecting anything close to 50 Shades. I am so sick of books using that as a marketing tool. Ugh. I mean, there is a new edition of Shirley Conran's Lace...and on the cover, it says that if you loved 50 Shades you will love this early novel. Lace is NOTHING like 50 Shades. But I digress.

ANYWAY...

I really enjoyed reading The Chocolate Money. It is very "readable," but it is not for the faint of heart or someone looking for a story to make them feel a warm and fuzzy inside. The narrative voice is very strong, and Bettina is a believable flawed character put into sometimes incredibly unbelievable situations. The book is a coming of age story about Bettina as she grows up with a completely neglectful and abusive mother (who happens to be heiress to an enormous chocolate company fortune). Anyway, I really liked it and, as dark as it was, it left me satisfied.

Plus, the cover absolutely rocks.

What I didn't like is that some of the cultural/popular references to dress and products in the early 80s didn't ring true to me. So many times I felt as if the author were trying to modernize the story in ways that she didn't need to do. I also found certain situations unbelievable--especially Bettina's life at the end of the book. I just don't buy it. I won't spoil anything for you, but there it is.

In any case, I did enjoy reading the book...so much so that I read it nearly in one sitting. As I mentioned, be warned that the book is explicit and doesn't censor anything. So, if you want a dark bildungsroman, go for it.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5

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