Picture the scene: Dother Hall performing arts college somewhere Up North, surrounded by rolling dales, bearded cheesemaking villagers (male and female) and wildlife of the squirrely-type. On the whole, it’s not quite the showbiz experience Tallulah was expecting… but once her mates turn up and they start their ‘FAME! I’m gonna liiiiive foreeeeeever, I’m gonna fill my tiiiiights’ summer course things are bound to perk up.
Especially when the boys arrive. (When DO the boys arrive?)
Six weeks of parent-free freedom. BOY freedom. Freedom of expression… cos it’s the THEATRE dahling, the theatre!! (from Goodreads)
I’m a big fan of Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicolson books (diaries and drama and lots of humor!) and so when I found out that she was starting a new series, one that starred Georgia’s cousin, Tallulah, I was super-duper excited. After reading it…okay, yeah, it’s not my favorite LR book ever, and in fact it just made me miss the Georgia books even more1.
Withering Tights is about Tallulah and her summer in the county at a theater school, a theater school which is lead by the sort of people you’d see wandering around Hollywood somewhere with tea cozies on their heads. She’s there for one thing only: to become a star. And boys. Okay, two things only: stardom, and boys. And her first snog. So, three things: stardom, boys, snogging. And maybe some adventures a la Wuthering Heights. So, four things!
And that’s basically what you get. There are boys, and snogging, and flimsy connections to Wuthering Heights, and some school stuff that doesn’t go as Tallulah planned. The comedy aspect isn’t, I think, as clever or as strong as the humor in the Georgia books is– for one thing, basically everyone but Tallulah and her friends come across as caricatures instead of characters. The teachers at the art school are especially terrible; I think they’re supposed to be humorous, “oh aren’t artists just funny little people” sort of characters, but I wasn’t really impressed with them. They came across more like slapstick comedy characters than actual teacher.
The nice thing about the Georgia books is, though everyone acts in a slightly ridiculous manner, they still feel like real people. People with a good dose of silliness in them, but people nonetheless! Tallulah (and her friends) have got the ridiculousness balanced with realness, and they’re really fun to read about. Everyone else, meanwhile, has got the slapstick problem.
So that was disappointing. The plot itself was pretty enjoyable, though, with character growth and coming-of-age stuff. There were also some nice insights into humanity– presented in a humorous way, of course– and the ending, though somewhat sad, was really nice. Although I didn’t think it was as funny as her other books, I did laugh out loud a few times, and I obviously didn’t hate it enough to give up reading it. So, while it’s not my favorite book ever, I don’t think it’s all that horrible, either.
Read: January 22-23, 2012
- damn my having to pack away all my books. ↩