REVIEW BY KIRSTY NICOLE POLE
As a certified shoeaholic and ‘Sex and the City’ addict when I received my copy of ‘Manhattan’ and the pair of Christian Louboutin shoes on the front cover stared back at me I couldn’t wait to get stuck in, having not read Ronnie Cooper’s debut novel ‘Rock Chicks’ I had an open mind and was eager to see what her writing style was like, but what I discovered left me happy, frustrated and..well…a little confused…
Stevie, Raine and Mei-Lin are three of Manhattan’s most powerful women and our main characters, as the story starts in the 1980’s we discover each woman is from a very different background, bought together by their hatred of one man…Jason Tang. The three main protagonists are all well written and as a reader I was able to empathise with them, each character is struggling with her own personal demon and overall the book is about power and having faith in ourselves.
However, as I continued to read I began to realise that if I had been hoping for a nice, fluffy tale set in New York City like the blurb on the back of the book suggested, I had been wrong, very wrong. As we discover more about the women’s pasts the book becomes a lot darker, jumping back in time to when the women were younger, we discover how Jason Tang, has single-handedly caused them all pain. I found Mei-Lin’s story particularly hard to read, not just because of the content but also because it wasn’t what I had been expecting from the book, at times I felt like I was reading something completely different to the book I had started.
Stevie, once the lead singer of the world’s biggest female rock band and Raine, a small town girl who’s made it big in the starry lights of Manhattan offer some familiar chick-lit comfort with tales of life on the road in a girl band and some expert bitchy dialogue from a character called Lou…watch out for that girl! I found their characters a lot easier to read and much more light hearted.
Here’s where I make a confession….I speed-read the next 200 pages! I tried, but I found myself craving a lighter hearted story, some laughter and I found the book lacking in comedy. Picking it up during Part Four I was still intrigued to see what happened to the main characters and to my astonishment…I actually enjoyed it! It didn’t make any sense, it felt like the book had suddenly found its stride as all of the loose ends were being tied up in the last few chapters, it was fast paced, gripping and I was really rooting for the girls in their individual stories!
As I read the last page of the book I’ve never been more puzzled, I went from speed reading chapters to being engrossed which has never happened to me before. I didn’t enjoy it, and then I did enjoy it. I’m still puzzled now. If you are a lover of light hearted girl-about-town novels then this one isn’t for you (It certainly wasn’t for me!) but for those of you who prefer something a little different with the unusual mix of serious backstory and powerful present day action ‘Manhattan’ is perfect for you.
As for me….give me Manhattan the ‘Sex and the City’ way any day.
Ronni Cooper's Website