Twenty-three year old Belle is bright, funny and a hopeless mess of self-doubt; a situation not impoved by having a glamorous, highbrow television presenter for a mother. In a bid to shock her mother and hijack some attention for herself, she gets a job as a dancer at Xanadu, a glitzy and cheap strip joint in Soho run by a 'hands on' proprietor, with tough girls who eye this new innocent in the dressing room with thinly veiled scorn and suspicion. But to her surprise, Belle finds her new persona - in g-strings and outlandish stage shows- fits her better than her old anxious self. This new, flamboyant, sexy thing feels like the real Belle. But only until Belle makes the mistake of thinking she is equal to the situation...The relationship between sex, self and society is brilliantly dissected in this darkly witty second novel by one of Britain's rising stars.
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(198mm x 126mm x 18mm)
Virago Press Ltd
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Belle, unexpected, unwanted, unloved daughter of a single mother - a successful if minor television presenter whose career is just beginning to slide - is yearning for love and encouragement. A maladroit, clumsy typing temp, she takes a desperate step to obtain an Equity Card, in one of London's Soho sleazy, downmarket, strip clubs ('a sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice'). Here she does find friendship and a kind of comradeship-in-arms (all the girls aspiring towards that vital Card to help them up the theatrical ladder). But it doesn't last. Belle is a natural outsider, always putting her foot in the wrong place: the kind of person Barnard touches with her generous spirit. The scenes at the Club are often hilarious - the language and attitudes frank and explicit - but with a kind of practical distance set. This is a sexuality at a cold, functional level, which Belle sometimes misunderstands. Barnard won the Orange Award for Women's Fiction with her remarkable Poker Face. It will be interesting to see whether she continues to explore the world of the emotional outsider, which she does so well. We will be watching her progress with interest. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Josie Barnard
Josie Barnard has been an editor, journalist and radio broadcaster. Her first novel, Poker Face (Virago) was the winner of a Betty Trask Award. She is the step-daughter of Hermione Lee.