This was my recent predicament having picked up a copy of Alex from the Never Mind the Botox series by Penny Avis and Joanna Berry.
The book is one of four that follow the lives of career girls Alex, Rachel, Stella and Meredith – all professionals working on different aspects of the corporate takeover of cosmetic surgery company – The Beau Street Group.
This particular novel charts the experiences of lawyer Alex, whose professional prospects hinge on the facilitation of the deal. However, before it all sounds a little too dry and serious for a spa-side read, what Berry and Avis offer with these books is chick-lit for the 21st century girl.
There is of course a suitably tantalising romantic sub-plot to appeal to our (or at least my) sense of fairytale endings and living vicariously through other people, however, rather than burying our noses in the traditional format of ‘damsel in distress meets the contemporary equivalent of horse-riding, armour-wearing and conveniently god-like suitor’, this story straddles the line between depicting sisters who are totally capable of doing things for themselves, and young women with their own worries, insecurities, hopes and fears.
The books are aspirational in a career sense – showing professional industries in a glamorous but not totally unrealistic light – an achievement given a sense of realism by the respective legal and accountancy backgrounds that Berry and Avis are so proud of, but at the same time these are women who are really likeable and imperfect – they are girl’s girls rather than adhering to the ball-busting stereotypes of many a TV sitcom and don’t seek to pit women against one another in the race for professional or romantic glory.
Naturally, given the title, the books also touch on the pros and cons of cosmetic surgery. Avis and Berry work hard to explore it from multiple angles, which given that it’s an enormous industry with many facets, is no mean feat. It isn’t in your face or over the top; it points out the positives, but leaves you in no doubt of the risks. Interestingly, the title of the series also emerges as more than a simple catchphrase as you read as well – with Botox appearing as very much the gateway into the world of cosmetic surgery.
One of the nicest things about Never Mind the Botox however is the underlying subtext that betrays the two people behind the prose. If you have ever had the good fortune to meet Berry and/or Avis, you will be acutely aware that their sense of humour and language shines through – to get a better idea of what I am talking about I highly recommend tapping into their twitter feed which is rife with textual imagery and conversational witticisms.
Ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed Alex – it is fun, amusing, and easy to read, which personally I find necessary when it comes to down-time literature; but it does have thought provoking angles that are culturally relevant and contemporaneous. Plus, there are four of them, which means I don’t have to mourn the loss of reading material just yet … now, if you will excuse me, I have some reading to do …
From Monday 11th June we are giving the first 1000 Spabreaks.com bookers a copy of bestseller Alex! … we’re already thinking about which pool we want to read by!