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Saturday, 25 December 2010

Inheritance by Tara Palmer-Tomkinson

Glamorous lives, family ties and wicked lies...

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first saw Inheritance by Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. I am not much into celebrities and far too often find that their book sales have very little to do with content. I was lucky enough to read the press release and blurb and became curious to know more. After reading the Prologue I knew I’d read it all, and glad that I had not chosen to judge this book by its cover. Here is the blurb for you:

Notorious party-loving ‘It Girl’ Lyric Charlton has it all – the lineage, the looks and the lifestyle. A moneyed upbringing at the heart of one of the upper class’s most well-connected families, a finishing school education and an address book bursting with the world’s most powerful and high-profile people has crowned her the glamorous poster girl for the aristocratic glitterati.
But when her doomed relationship with suave boy-about-town Ralph Conway means she takes the good times too far, she is packed off to rehab by her worried parents, and the public shame and private humiliation that follow means Lyric’s only option seems to be to retreat into sober obscurity.
But what no one can predict is the dramatic chain of events her exile sets in motion. For Lyric’s treatment is the start of much more than a life as an ex-addict. It’s the catalyst that exposes a complex web of deceit and betrayal – and leads Lyric on an increasingly dangerous quest to find the final missing piece of the jigsaw of her life…

I like the way that this novel is structured, starting in the present, and then going back into the past to explain the origins of present events. The opening prologue has the protagonist, Lyric Charlton, in a luxurious private jet en route to Geneva, with the love of her life beside her and her every need attended to; it ends with the jet hijacked, her wonderful young man unconscious or dead, a gun to her head and her life in the balance, and your heart racing. The story then rewinds to three years earlier; a brilliant way to ensure that the reader has to continue reading to find out what in the name of God is going to happen.

The novel is an easy read and mostly flows well, though sometimes I felt that it jumped too suddenly, and you were not sure how Lyric had left one situation and entered into another. The novel touches on a wide range of topics: sexuality, drugs, alcohol, scandal, betrayal, money, family secrets and breakdowns, pretty much everything that you would expect in a story about the rich and famous. However, it attempts to escape the superficial treatment of these subjects that many novels of this sort are thought to have.

I am not going to say that this book is a work of literary genius, one of the best I have ever read, that it blew my mind, nor anything of that nature, but then I don’t think Tara pretends to be the nation’s next top novelist. Still, she deserves credit, and Inheritance is an enjoyable read. It has glam and glitz, sparkle and splendour, but also has moments of sadness and mystery, and takes a critical look at the glamorous world of the high-flyers, celebrities and young aristocrats. I know many of you will think that we already know all about their world, and I cannot say that Tara uncovers anything that most of us haven’t heard about in press and gossip columns, but it gives us a view from the inside, rather than from an outsider’s judgemental point of view.

I may not have learnt anything profound about the universe, and Inheritance is not as challenging as some of my usual reads, but sometimes it nice to read something easy and fun that gets your emotions going and that does not require intellectual analysis. We all like to escape, and who doesn’t like a sneak peak at the aristocracy’s lifestyle every now and then? Just look at how everyone has gone mushy for Wills and Kate. I have read that Inheritance is predictable and I am not sure I entirely agree, but even so,  so are almost all chic-flick movies, and the Detective Columbo series (Columbo always solve the crimes), but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable to watch.

Those who know me and my reading habits may be surprised, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed Inheritance, and if you are looking for an easy going, nice-bit-of-fun, escape from your usual, this novel is as good an option as any.

Thank you Pan Macmillan, and in particular to the lovely Katie James, for this copy of Inheritance.


  1. I love the sound of this! Fluffy chick lit about the upper classes is my guilty pleasure... Have you ever read any Jo Carnegie? She's written three books (about the same cast of characters) set between London and a tiny Cotswalds village, and the characters are ladies and lords and rich families, and I loved them. You're right, it's definitely nice to read something easygoing and escape every now and again!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Abi.
    I've heard of Jo Carnegie but I haven't read any of her novels. I think perhaps I'll give them a try. If you like this type of novel then I think you will enjoy this, I think this book definitely deserves more credit.


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