Monday 23 January 2017

Review: Girl In A Spin by Clodagh Murphy

(Hachette, €14.99)

Published 14/08/2010 | 05:00

Write what you know, they say, but Dublin author Clodagh Murphy has broken the rule and set her second novel in the world of British politics.

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It's a world she knew little about but which she captures to hilarious effect in this heart-warming, romantic comedy about a young Irish nanny's love affair with the future Prime Minister.

Ditzy party-girl Jenny Hannigan -- a rather naïve but adorable Marilyn Monroe lookalike, who can't cook -- secretly craves domesticity and solid respectability. So when she meets the leader of the British Moderate Party, Richard Allen, she thinks she's found Mr Right.

As Richard is recently separated, they've been conducting their love affair in secret. Tall, handsome but vainglorious Richard has his sights set on the next election, so he engages spin doctor, Dev, (also tall and handsome) to groom Jenny for her introduction to society and her role as consort.

Dev delves into Jenny's scandalous past, which includes nude magazine photos and a string of old flames who have even set up a support group on Facebook, and by the time she has done her first interview with a homely womens' magazine, it is obvious to everyone, except Jenny, that she is totally unsuitable for the position of Prime Minister's wife.

With humour crackling on every page, Jenny is introduced to the public, who fall for her considerable charms. She meets politicians with penchants for cross-dressing and bondage and spends weekends in chilly stately homes.

Recoiling from country pursuits, bored by the party conference and cold-shouldered by Richard's stuffy friends and acolytes, Jenny increasingly turns to Dev for company.

Hovering in the background is Richard's wife, Julia, sleek and classically understated, the perfect politician's wife -- and a sublime cook. As the election gets into gear, Richard's focus is on public appearances and speeches. Suddenly, Jenny's dreams of domestic bliss are blighted when Richard drops a bombshell. This forces the protagonists to review their true feelings but also delivers a happy ending.

Fans of Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella will love Girl In A Spin with its funny twists and turns, and use of comedy to deal with serious issues. Delightfully escapist, it is the kind of book which would translate easily to the big screen -- if only Hugh Grant and Renee Zellweger were a little younger.

As with her first novel, The Disengagement Ring, Murphy has turned a good idea into a great read.

Irish Independent

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