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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Lucky Bunny

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: Lucky Bunny

Lucky Bunny

Author: Jill Dawson
Pages: 384
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Description from Goodreads:
'Crime's a man's business. So they say. Who was that small figure then, slender enough to trot along the moonlit track, swift and low, virtually invisible? Who was it that covered the green signal with a glove to stop the train, while the two others took care of the driver and his mate? Could it have been one Queenie Dove, survivor of the Depression and the Blitz, not to mention any number of scrapes with the law?'

Queenie Dove is a self-proclaimed genius when it comes to thieving and escape. Daring, clever and sexy, she ducked and dived through the streets of London from the East End through Soho to Mayfair, graduating from childhood shop-lifting to more glamorous crimes in the post-war decades. So was she wicked through and through, or more sinned against than sinning? Here she tells a vivacious tale of trickery and adventure, but one with more pain and heartbreak than its heroine cares to admit. Yes, luck often favoured her, but that is only part of the story.

First Sentence: "Queenie's not my real name, of course."

I went into this novel with such high hopes. Audra of Unabridged Chick loved it, and I typically find that I agree with her on books. Unfortunately, my experience of this one was quite different, partly, I think, because of my prior reading history and because of the way the book was billed. For me, this book was slow and torturous, the characters utterly loathsome.

Your enjoyment of this book will likely hinge on how you feel about Queenie Dove. If you find her clever, cool and alluring, then everything will be copacetic. If, like me, you find her obnoxious and really don't care what happens to her, the book will drag on seemingly endlessly. In part, my distaste stemmed from her name, as I read another book with a Queenie at the lead earlier this year: Code Name Verity. That Queenie has so much personality, strength, intelligence and charisma that this one paled in comparison.

My other problem with regards to expectation was that I thought this was a novel about World War II. It's mentioned in the blurb and on the back of the book it's described as "a world war II-era narrative," which may technically be true, but is quite misleading. World War II doesn't matter too much in Queenie's life, though she lives through it. She was evacuated briefly toe the country and survived one tragic bombing, but that's pretty much the extent of it.

Of course, had I read the synopsis more closely, I would have noted what the book is actually about: hoisting, theft, in so much as it is about anything. You see, this book doesn't have a plot. AT ALL. I have liked plotless books in the past, because if the writing and ideas and characters are marvelous than I don't need a plot to pull me through to the end of the book. Without it in this instance, it was a struggle to get to the last page. I had similar difficulties with David Copperfield, another fictional biography. Perhaps that subset of fiction is not for me.

I will say that the book improved when Queenie got older. The first 150 pages or so, though, were so entirely boring to me. A large portion of the book is devoted to Queenie's tragic childhood, I guess to promote sympathy in me and make me care about her. Well, that didn't work. Yes, her life sucked (gambler dad, insane mother, etc.), but I still found Queenie off-putting.

Precisely why I disliked Queenie so much, aside from expecting her to be like that other literary Queenie, is a bit hard to place my finger on. I suspect that lies in her narrative style. The book is written in a style that simply didn't work for me, filled with odd slang and long sentences. I read a little selection of it to my parents, who found it pompous and said it sounded like she was 'trying too hard.' The cadence of the sentences just didn't come off particularly naturally. With a really good narrator, though, I imagine this could be a marvelous audiobook.

As much as there was one, the main conflict of the book regarded domestic abuse. Like her mother before her, Queenie settles down with a man who beats her. He first hits her in public and not just once, yet she stays. In the narrative, she considers how much other people blame the abused woman for allowing the abuse, for staying; she calls this victim blaming. She has a point, of course, but I still feel wholeheartedly that she should have kicked him to the curb the first time he slapped her.

Undoubtedly this book will work for others and I urge you to check out Audra's review, which I linked to up above, for another viewpoint. The whole book just rubbed me the wrong way.

Rating: 2/5

Favorite Quote: "I've never been one of those women who looks at herself in the mirror and takes everything apart, critical, you know. What a waste of time that attitude is! Young girls today make me sorry for them, always dissecting their own bodies, like they're one of those maps of a cow in a butchers' shop. Me, I take my lead from Gloria. I look in the mirror, slap my lovely fat behind and say to myself: yep, Queenie, looking good!"

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Blogger Audra said...

Aw, boo, I'm sorry it didn't click -- I can totally see how this would be a tiring read if you didn't dig Queenie. Now and then unreliable narrators and I gel and it worked in this one -- I'm so v sorry I got your hopes up!

Really great review -- v fair and even-handed. I suspect this will be a love-it-or-hate-it kind of book, no gray for folks.

November 5, 2012 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Lenore Appelhans said...

The quote is hilarious though!

November 5, 2012 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Me too! Sad day! I usually like unreliable narrators, but I don't know. She didn't make too much of that, I didn't think. It's not your fault! You DID love it. I just don't have the same taste as anyone exactly.

That's the drawback of first person narratives. They can be very love it or hate it, with no in between.

November 5, 2012 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

True. There's also a hilarious quote about sex.

November 5, 2012 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

I'm not a huge fan of historical novels so this isn't one that I would pick up and read. But can I just say that I love how you are constantly branching out. Every day that I come to comment on your page I never know what kind of a book I am going to read a review on. Granted this leaves me reading reviews of books I don't care about. But I love seeing your opinion on such a wide array of topics. It's too bad you expected one thing out of this one and didn't get it.

November 5, 2012 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Historical novels tend to be pretty all or nothing with me, so I don't read as much in the genre as some others.

Yay! I take risks, which sometimes works and sometimes, well, not so much.

November 6, 2012 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger trish said...

As I'm just getting into audiobooks, I see your point about how a book that might be difficult to read yourself could come alive in an audiobook format.

Thanks for being on the tour!

November 7, 2012 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Very much so. An audiobook can make the reading experience so much better...or, conversely, so much more painful. Haha.

November 8, 2012 at 7:52 AM  
Blogger Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I was put off at first by the title, Queenie's name and the cover. I don't like romance and Queenie just seemed sorta like Bunny or some such silliness. I got over that pretty quickly though bc I very much cared about Queenie. I think her family was one of many caught in the periphery of WWII...and maybe their experience is one we just haven't heard very much about. I also have a penchant for words, sentence structure and very much for accents and what feels like real live language including slang. So, my opinion is probably biased, but I really liked it. I do agree, however, that if you don't like Queenie, you probably won't like this book. Enjoyed your review :)

November 9, 2012 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha, I liked those things, and was excited for them. Speaking of, I wish the lucky bunny had been more of a thing. It didn't seem important enough to use as the title, and surely something about thieving would have given off a more accurate impression...

I like all of those things sometimes too, but I really just couldn't deal with Queenie. There was nothing I liked about her at all. Sigh!

November 12, 2012 at 8:30 AM  

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