I wish I were more adept at finding the past posts which had led my reading choices so that I could give credit where credit was due. About a month ago someone wrote about Maria Semple’s “Where’d you go, Bernadette” and the description was enough to make me decide to read it. It certainly wasn’t the garish cover which attracted me. But there was something in the blog which made me deviate from my usual conventional reading pattern. I started it today and have read fifty pages. By the time I got to page 10 and Ollie-O I was hooked.
Ollie-O has been brought into a school to motivate the Parents Association to raise money to encourage a better class of people to the school and to shift the location of the school away from the next-door wholesale seafood distributor. Families are divided into Subaru parents and Mercedes parents. Well, a Lexus is acceptable !
Because this is an American writer satirising her own American society I can laugh long and loud which perhaps I wouldn’t do if it was written by a non-American. I would have you all down on my head like a ton of bricks if I were to be so cruel to you !
When reading about Ollie-O I soon had a face and a voice for her. Some of you may know Audrey Gordon, the celebrity chef, with her snobbish and racist comments on TV. I’m sure Ollie-O looks and sounds like an American verion of Audrey.
But Ollie-O is only a small part of the book which is written in various voices in different forms of communication between the characters in the book – an extension of the idea used in Helene Hanff’s delightful “84 Charing Cross Road”, an exchange of snail-mail letters between a customer and a bookshop. In fact in the pre-internet days when I used to order books from James Thin booksellers in Edinburgh at the other side of the world I was quite sure I was going to become the new Helene Hanff !
But Ollie-O is only a small part of the book which is about a bright student and her bright parents. I am so looking forward to reading more.
Choice of school – for a better education or for social climbing ?