Thursday 22 March 2018

Reivew: Rules for a Perfect Life by Niamh Greene

Penguin €14.99

IN Rules for a Perfect Life, each of the 27 chapters, like those in some self-help manuals, is headed by a maxim, which will, if followed, apparently change your life for the better.

Some are old cliches, "beware of wolves in sheep's clothing", while others are straight from the New Age canon -- "fake it till you make it".

Our heroine Maggie thinks self-help and people who adhere to it are beyond contempt. What follows could, and by rights should, have been a whip-sharp satire on our modern love of every publication that guarantees us inner happiness.

This looks like chick lit, but is old-school women's fiction wrapped up in a modern cover, and you will need to suspend disbelief from the top of a skyscraper if you want any chance of enjoying it at all.

It is a fairy tale in a modern setting and, therefore, do not expect anything even vaguely realistic to happen within the 324 pages.

Maggie has just split up with her long-term boyfriend and becomes a victim of the global economic meltdown by losing her job and home. She ends up moving to Glacken, a small town in the middle of nowhere, to house-sit the charming Rose Cottage for her friend Clare, who is in India on a voyage of personal discovery.

Life in the countryside lives up to Maggie's less than great expectations and at the same time defies them. The locals are a colourful lot; elderly shopkeeping couple Ted and Peg provide not just dusty tins of spam but a clearing house for all local gossip, which they then broadcast via Facebook and Twitter.

As part of Maggie's tenancy of Rose Cottage, she must help the landlord, the dashing widower Edward, at his stables and in no time at all ... you can guess the rest.

Of course, no self-respecting fairy tale is complete without a wicked witch and here you get three for the price of one. But Maggie's worst enemy is herself. She tells almost continuous lies and the villagers believe she is an award-winning artist. In fact, she's an out of work estate agent and lovely Edward really loathes realtors, calling them "low-life scumbags".

Oh no, what will happen when he finds out that Maggie has been lying all along? Will it all end in tears and hopeless tragedy? Well, I'm not one for spoiling the plot, so I'll just have to leave you writhing with curiosity.

Sunday Independent

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