New Year New Books: I’ll be post a few reviews of some recent new novels over the next week... And first – Jane Fallon who cheered up my last few Januaries, and has done it again…
Tell Me a Secret by Jane Fallonpublished 2019
[clothes descriptions taken from throughout the book]
Canary-yellow top. Red skinny trousers. Heels. She looks like someone turned the lights on.
She’s wearing a chunky polo neck over tight red tartan skinny leg trousers…
She pulls down her purple jumper as she stands. She’s carefully mismatched it with a bright green skirt, purple tights and green ankle boots…
There’s a tap on my door and Roz is standing there. Hot pink jumper, red skirt… orange seahorses dangling from her ears…
…Dangly salmon-coloured earrings in the shape of flamingos.
commentary: Jane Fallon writes a good
story. This one rattles along like nobody’s business, and anyone (particularly any woman) who has ever worked in an office, had friends, worried about her job, shared a flat, or had children to worry about, will find plenty to recognize in this book.
Narrator Holly has just been promoted: she works on a TV soap opera in the script department, a world which is less glamorous than it might sound, and a world that Fallon plainly knows extremely well – all the detail is fascinating and completely convincing. But Holly suspects someone in the office has it in for her, and what starts as some mild undermining gets quite worrying: she is on probation in the new job. She thinks she knows who it might be – a jealous workmate – but the experienced reader knows it is not going to be that simple.
About one of her previous books, Faking Friends, I said:
Jane Fallon’s books are terrific, but I do sometimes think she should be writing crime books – so, let’s say, as well as her line in contemporary, funny novels. She is the absolute mistress of plotting, and of revenge stories, and of back and forths in a competitive, difficult or point-scoring relationship. She is a modern-day Revenge Tragedy/Comedy Queen, the John Webster of today, only with great clothes, and witty comebacks, and some chance of a happy ending.And this is true of this one too. But - as I so often say, a lot of the fun of this book comes in not knowing where it is going, so I don’t want to give too much away about the plot –
Is it a sackable offence to enlist two middle-aged idiots to pry into a colleague’s personal life?I can say that the details of Holly’s life, friends and worries are most enjoyable, jumping around all over the place as the sabotage thread plays out. The book is very funny and a very easy read. Holly’s friend Dee is a delight, and I love the way she – and other characters, and Fallon herself – all give unnecessary extra details in any narrative. Holly busily complains about this trait in Dee before telling us:
The waitress has a cool tattoo of a snake going up her forearm.There were plot points where I wanted to say ‘but hang on, surely she could…’, the computing skills seemed a bit basic, and some clues I picked up on early. But it is much more important to say that I was racing through this book, unable to put it down till I found out everything that happened.
And of course there were the excellent clothes, and the descriptions of office life – the fierce friendships based on secretive chats and being mean about others, the importance of fellow feeling, the way colleagues start dressing the same and imitating each other’s conversation. All so well done.
An excellent January read, to cheer up the dark days and while away an afternoon. Fallon really knows what she is doing.
Her books Strictly Between us, Sweet Revenge and Faking Friends have all featured on the blog.