The Ideal Review


Fabulous at FiftyCover


The RNA Memoir, Fabulous at Fifty is published, out there, and we’re starting to get feedback. So far it’s all been very nice, which is a relief as the book is supposed to be a celebration.

But it set me thinking about reviews. Who writes them.  What they say. Why we care.

And we do care. I’ve seen fellow authors in tears over a nasty review on Amazon.  Sometimes they were pure spite; sometimes they were clearly written by other authors with a hobby horse to ride. (Academics do this too, only more so. ) But adverse reviews are not all bad if they tell you something useful about what’s between the covers. The reviewer might not have liked it but, hey, you’re an independent reader and you make up your own mind, don’t you? By contrast, ‘another cracking book,’ flattering though it may be to the author, doesn’t really tell you anything.

The very nicest comment we have had so far on Fab @50 is from author Elizabeth Hawksley.  She writes: ‘I think you’ve pitched it just right, part history, part biography, part anecdote and a bit of social history as well.  It’s a great record for the future. Some new editor in 2060 is going to love you!’   It is a particularly welcome comment because Elizabeth, as a novelist and long time member of the RNA, gets it. She sees what we were trying to do and thinks we brought it off. Yay! 

But what of the reviewer who doesn’t get what you’re trying to do?  Someone like, for sake of argument, my friend Theophilus Ecologicus  were he to be forced to read one of my novels. He doesn’t have much truck with fiction anyway and is particularly picky about anything romantic. (7 Brides for 7 Bros is okay, where the guys keep moving and singing and nobody does any of that embarrassing looking-into-each-other’s eyes muck.)  An adverse comment from him could be the highest compliment in my terms and the terms of my favourite readers.

So, here is my Wish List of comments on my next novel, whenever it is published:

I laughed, I cried, I couldn’t put it down  – Katie Fforde

A hero to die for – Sara Craven

Fantabulous. I loved it. Thank you! – the Kind Reader who took time out to contact me after reading my short story in the RNA Collection LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT.  Thank YOU, Kind Reader

I want to play that man – Hugh Jackman

Truthful, funny and hopeful – the World’s Best Librarian.

A bit soppy – Theophilus E 

And the last one clinches it.  Let’s hear it for Theophilus.

Leave a Reply