Thursday, September 30, 2010

Playing with the Grown-ups by Sophie Dahl

Playing with the Grown-ups

by Sophie Dahl
published 2007
completed September 2010

Playing with the Grown-ups begins with Kitty as an adult.  She is pregnant and living with her husband in New York when she receives a phone call and leaves immediately for London.  The reader is then taken back to when Kitty was 11, living with her grandparents, aunts, twin half-siblings, and her mother Marina.  Her mother is a gorgeous, young painter and Kitty idolizes her.  Marina finds a new religion and on a whim, moves out of her parents home.  From that point forward, Kitty’s world seems to unravel.

I enjoyed the first half of this book, but about halfway through, it went downhill for me.  The writing itself, was done well, but the development of the book as a whole was lacking.  The pacing of the story was very disruptive.  Several times, something would happen, then a few line breaks, and then it’s suddenly a month later and an unrelated plot point was introduced.  The book kept switching between past and present tense, but sometimes it was unclear which time frame I was reading.

It’s difficult to explain my feelings about this book without spoilers, so skip the next two paragraphs if you intend to read it.

The relationship with Kitty and Marina was frustrating.  I have a difficult time reading about bad mothers and Marina is one of them.  Her children should have been taken away.  What mother gets angry with her daughter for taking ecstasy at a party by telling her that she should have done coke instead?  Her mother gave her coke.  She also let her hang around older men that she knew would take advantage of her daughter.  I know this is just fiction but it disturbs me to read about neglectful parents.

My other frustration was that the narrative ends with Kitty at 15.  At 15, Kitty has seen and done so much, and seems to be on a destructive path.  The next glimpse of Kitty is when she is an adult, married and pregnant, and living in New York.  How did she get there?  It was quite a leap from screwed up teenager to well-adjusted adult.

I have a low tolerance for the particular issues that were portrayed in this novel, so I wouldn’t recommend this book to any friends.  Despite that, I’m sure that there are other readers who have enjoyed it.

I picked this up so that I could fulfill part of the “All in the Family” part of the Take Another Chance Challenge.  Sophie Dahl is Roald Dahl’s granddaughter.  I am reading a collection of short stories by Roald Dahl for the other half of this challenge.  Hopefully I’ll post my review early next week.

1 comment:

  1. This does sound disturbing ... and like it has some serious plot laspses. It seems difficult to imagine going from teenagehood to adulthood with barely any plot mention.