This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
When I first pulled RSVP out of the bag, I have to confess I was pretty excited. Obvious metaphors about books and their covers aside, there's always something about a good girly chick-lit cover that gets my hopes up. With its pink cover, sparkly writing and sultry woman on the front RSVP seemed to promise a good, early Louise Bagshawe-style bonkbuster. And the copy on the back further increased my hopes – beautiful rich people, families at war, a hint of mysteries to be revealed – what more could you want from a good chick-lit novel??
Well, it turns out the answer is good editing, and an ability to stick to one genre. Because by the time I was 2 pages in I was fighting the urge to take a pen and cross out some of the more excessive adjectives. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for good description and mood-setting, but there comes a point where adjectives get distracting.
But I persevered and I'm glad I did, because by the end of the chapter I was completely gripped by the story of the beautiful Ashling Morrison and her imminent marriage to Rossa, scion of one of Ireland's most prestigious families – the Granvilles. Honoria, matriarch of the clan, controls the family with a neat mix of cash, threats and love, her various grandchildren acting as the pawns in her game of hatred and revenge. Her opponent? Ashling's stepmother, the sexy and manipulative Coppelia who, although she refuses to tell her stepdaughter why, urges her passionately not to get involved with the Granvilles. The story hinges around the great Midsummer Eve engagement party, thrown for the couple by Honoria. In the dark of a summer night plotlines start to unfold and old secrets are revealed, some sad, some deeply disturbing.
And that's my other slight complaint about this book – it's not quite sure what it wants to be. It's part good old-fashioned bonkbuster, but the plot is far too complicated for that – I had to keep skipping back to work out who fitted in where. A family tree at the start of the book would have helped enormously. The story is also much too sinister to be a standard feel-good – incest, rape and murder do not a relaxing read make. The sexual diversity of the various characters also becomes a bit overwhelming by the end – almost everyone is sleeping with someone they shouldn’t be; aunts and nephews, brothers and sisters, mistresses – you name it, RSVP has it.
That said, great credit to Moore for almost pulling it off – despite the complexities of the plot the book is gripping (I stayed up til 2:30am to finish it) and it’s very well written (the horror scenes especially – terrifying but crucially not too graphic). The characters are fantastic – not always nice people, but vivid and real and you can’t help being drawn in and wondering whodunit and whether everyone will get the endings they deserve.
Overall I’d definitely recommend this book – it’s an excellent and exciting read and the darker sides give it a bite which a lot of novels lack. It’d just be good if the cover and copy gave you slightly more idea of what to expect – I can’t help feeling it sells the book a bit short.