Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chasing Rainbows

Nuala Woulfe
One of the most tiresome things about being a stay-at-home mum is my lack of cash for frivolous luxuries. And I’m not talking about designer face cream or cashmere socks or a professional leg wax – I’m talking about books and book buying.
Many novels are first released in trade paperback (TPB); publisher–speak for ‘big size paperback’; they cost about £12.99. Perhaps it’s my thrifty Scots Irish upbringing but I happen to think £12.99 is allot of money to risk on a novel and a novelist I know nothing about, irrespective of whether the cover is pretty, or the blurb promises an uplifting read! In popular fiction all covers are pretty, and all blurbs promise an uplifting read.
So I didn’t buy Chasing Rainbows by first time novelist Nuala Woulfe when it was first released in TPB. Keen and all as I was to read it, I knew, from experience, that within a year it would be re-released as smaller cheaper paperback.
And let me tell you, lovers of popular fiction, Chasing Rainbows was well worth the wait! It’s such an unpredictable story; it did not twist any direction I was expecting; I love that in a novel.
Ali Hughes is twenty eight, going on seventeen. She works in an office, in a job she detests and for which she is overqualified. She’s always late when she deigns to turn up. Desperate to try something different, she unscrupulously cheats her employers into paying for her journalism course at night classes - she tells them its work related.
At the weekend she goes out to get drunk with the roughest bunch of women I’ve ever read about. Cynical, streetwise, uninhibited – “Seen any good willies lately?” is how they greet each other. They knock back terrifying amounts of drink and think nothing of vomiting into a bath, or peeing on the street.
Ali is still hungover on Monday, she’s pulling yet another sickie when ex- lover Dave drives up in his swanky new car waving a packet of biscuits and - wham bam - before the tea is wet they’re having hot, heavy sex, but not before Ali pops into the bathroom to quickly shave her legs....
So far, so eye popping.
Then a curious thing happens to Ali. At a (teetotal) ceili down the country she meets a man totally unlike the flash type she usually runs with. Karl has a PhD, he reads; he plays classical guitar. He admires her expressive eyes and how pretty her neck is when her hair is tied up. Ali is so intrigued she agrees to out with him. They spend the day at his lovely old country house recently inherited from an aunt. The Guinness and the country air go to Ali’s head, and yes, you’ve guessed it – wham bam – suddenly she and Karl are having hot heavy sex. Except this time, with Karl, she conceives. And it changes her life forever...
Nuala Woulfe is a Belfast woman who currently lives in County Tipperary with her husband and three children. She’s been writing all her life, for fun and as a professional journalist. Chasing Rainbows is her first novel – she was inspired by dreams she started to have after beginning colour therapy to treat migraines.
VERDICT: Since reading Chasing Rainbows I’ve begun to lock up my daughters. And any time in the future, when they have to go out, unchaperoned by me, they will be wearing chastity belts. And I will have the key.