In the early 1990s, about 1,500 (out of 34,000) Lloyds members (called Names) went bankrupt trying to pay asbestosis claims for companies that Lloyds insured. An Absolute Scandal is based on that event and takes a look at the lives of those affected by this unlimited, personal liability. Wealthy, upper-crust folks, find themselves being slowly stripped of their wealth as losses mount and they struggle, at first to keep appearances, then to maintain their lavish lifestyles and then in the end to just survive.
What worked for me
The English-English. The very Brit language was charming. I read the whole book in a faux-British accent (yes, it was exhausting) and that was fun. Almost like role playing.
What did not work for me
Pretty much everything else. I had never heard of Penny Vincenzi until I picked up this book. It is very long. 500+ pages. And frankly the subject matter does not warrant that. It takes many unwanted twists and turns that add nothing to the plot or to the characters. The plot itself is quite weak. Also the sheer number of characters are hard to keep track of. And a lot of them are romantically involved with people they are not supposed to. Too many tangled relationships to keep track off. I found myself skipping several pages and found it did not really affect the story, or rather my understanding of the story in anyway. The back cover has some review excerpts and I agree with the one that says, it is a soap. Yes, this is a soap in print. It really told me nothing about how Lloyds operates, it gave me a general, vague-ish idea about the ‘Names’ and syndicates but nothing more, really. Perhaps Vincenzi expects the reader she is targeting to know innards of Lloyds operations, but given the amount of fluff in this book, I doubt if that is the readership she is really trying to attract. I think someone like Grisham would have done true justice to the subject matter. There absolutely was no research in this book – it feels like Vincenzi just read the wiki page about Lloyds and tried to incorporate some of that information across 500+ pages. In the end, I did not understand what the book wanted to be. A whodunit? A romance novel? A historical fiction of sorts?
Hot or drop
I think drop. If you are looking for a romance novel, I am sure there are others that have more to offer than this mish-mash.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008