The Importance of Being Married

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 March, 2009, 12:00am

The Importance of Being Married

by Gemma Townley

Orion, HK$91

Write a novel called The Importance of Being ... and it had better be witty, or you'll look a right Bernard Shaw. It's like writing a story titled The Unbearable Lightness of etc. and making it stupid, like. Unfortunately, Gemma Townley's frothy cappuccino of a novel lacks the requisite chocolate sprinkles to be mentioned in the same breath as Oscar W's. For starters, she has the temerity to call her protagonist Jessica Wild. That's like the author of The Unbearable Lightness of etc. having a hero called Naples Kunder. Poor Jess is something of an idiot. For one thing, she works in advertising; for another, she pretends to be married to her boss (Anthony Milton, who presumably also works in advertising) to please a mad old bird called Grace Hampton. When Grace dies (one presumes out of horror at Jess' flagrant fibbing), she leaves a bequest to Jessica Milton. Doh! Frankly, I thought this served her right. Unfortunately, this device occurs with about 250 pages of creaky dialogue to go. Jess speaks like the sort of self-help book Mr Spock might memorise. 'Life is for living,' she mumbles at one point to the hunky Max. I half hoped he'd say she was mistaken.