From Enid Blyton to 50 Shades of Grey. Just what books grab the imaginations of this group of four middle-aged cousinly book-clubbers? Well, we asked them – and regretted it instantly.
We’re Finally Famous, a Melbourne-based group of identical book-clubbing cousins: Janet, Sandra, Vikki and Janine, who band together to write informative stuff about books that may not be as informative as you’d like, and possibly some irrelevant facts you might not find amusing as you’d hoped.
As we’ve never written for TBS before, so we’re introducing ourselves via Kiss, Kill, Steal (Kiss: an author you love, Kill: an author you hate, Steal: an author you’d love to be able to write like). That way you can learn a little about us and we can continue our lip service to our adoring fans(?)
The challenge to name a book we all loved and enjoyed was easy for our group of identical cousins. (The identical nature of our appearance describes how we look when we’re together: all morphing into Alice Cooper from the mascara running down our cheeks, grabbing our chests in pain and suffering exhaustion from laughing at our hilarious jokes. We’re a riot.)
The book that has pride of place on all our bookshelves is one we penned ourselves. “What the?” you may ask. Yes, we were destined for literary fame. Our brilliant novel is called Dogs Lie Sleeping (co-written with our esteemed book club co-members). Alright, the “brilliant novel” bit is questionable. It remains unpublished. It’s a perilous tale of complete rubbish but we loved every ridiculous chapter. Our poor kids were even made to dress up as characters to illustrate this great manuscript. We do love a group project!
We do love a group project!
So on to actual published works. We each had our own favourites.
Sandra was quick to reveal her childhood favourite, The Magic Faraway Tree by the fabulous Enid Blyton. “My God, it was such a beautiful book, all that fantasy, innocence and adventure with Moonface (not Bert Newton) and Dick and Fanny who’ve been renamed Rick and Franny. Fancy that!”
Janet butted in, insisting, “Well Really, Mr Twiddle was another worthy classic worth from Enid.”
“You’re both wrong,” interrupted Neen (she’s quite strident), “Mr Meddle’s Muddles was undoubtedly the overall best.”
“Are they related?” We heard a voice from the kitchen.
“Oh Babs,” (that’s Vikki’s alter ego), “get back to your jelly slice!” we called in unison.
Coming back down the faraway tree and memory lane, Janet commented that her favourite book is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. “I’ve read it a few times and love the idea of having a haven to escape to once a month and in fact, all the time. What an enchanting thought.”
The five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom was Babs’s choice. She recalls the fuzzy feeling it gave her on reading the last page over and over again. It was insightful, heartwarming and short. Just the way she likes a book … and her men!
There was no hesitation for Neen: Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon. Neen is still madly in love with Jamie Fraser the stunning hero who bears a striking resemblance to Sully in Dr Quinn Medicine Woman … “Well, in my mind anyway,” she said. “I still think it was a brilliant story despite comments from a renowned academic who commented that it was nothing but airport trash. Yes, you know who you are!”
(Editor’s note: Apparently the so-called renowned academic mentioned is, in fact, another cousin who thinks she’s smarter than this lot, if that’s at all possible.)
Pondering our choice for a Kill book we all had an “aha” moment when 50 Shades of Grey was mentioned. A ridiculous storyline full of clichés, a wimpish female character. Nevertheless, we were forced to read it because of its enormous popularity. There’s been nothing like it since One Direction.
We bagged it mercilessly, but Babs actually read all three books, the only series she’s ever read! Pity she didn’t get inspired to read as much when studying at school.
Sandra sheepishly admitted that she saw it at the movies but closed her eyes and put her fingers in her ears through all the sex scenes, cringing because … she went with her teenage daughter. She spent the whole movie thinking, “Oh my god, what possessed me?” She’ll never make that mistake again. Gee, it’s bad enough when there’s a sex scene on TV and your kids walk in, but a whole movie? Bloody hell.
Neen kept the book’s cover hidden by another dust jacket when she read it in the doctor’s waiting room or on the bus. Interestingly, Janet didn’t comment. Perhaps she’s rocking in the Red Tent.
Interestingly, Janet didn’t comment. Perhaps she’s rocking in the Red Tent.
Vikki revealed that having read all three books, she later dressed carefully in a hoody and sunglasses and donated her copies and “toys” to the local op shop. How kind of her? (Intentional question mark.)
If only one of us had written Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Not only would we be rich and famous, but even after 200 years we’d still be talked about.
Imagine being able to write like Jane. She captures the romance and the era with wit and charm. We decided that if Mrs Bennet was with us now, instead of herding all her daughters down to Meryton in pursuit of a husband, she’d be pushing them enthusiastically off to audition for Farmer Wants a Wife or The Bachelor.
Janet (seen frequently in her bonnet strolling through the aisles of Woolies) can’t think of dear, terribly prodigious Mr Darcy without imagining Colin Firth. Neen quickly rode in on her high horse and would not hear of such nonsense, it has to be Laurence Oliver, she asserted. And what about the disgraceful mumbling of those precious lines in the Keira Knightly movie version? How rude! Oh, Mr Darcy, handsome, wealthy and can write fabulous letters. What a dish.
So that’s us. On reflection our characters are clear don’t you think? Neen is bossy, Babs is a sex-crazed suburban housewife, but she’s kind to charities, Sandra is obviously a bad mother and Janet is invisible, although she looks great in a bonnet!