Hearts & Minds
by Rosy Thornton
St Radegund is a college in Cambridge that needs help. Money actually. Tons of it. And they have just appointed a former BBC executive, James Rycarte, to their Head of House. An appointment that breaks one hundred and sixty years of tradition in college that only accepts woman students.
Let's pop inside Rycarte's mind with a quote from the book:
Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain ...
"Her imagination has been captured by the idea of studying abroad - and what better place for her than here at St Radegund's?"
... and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
And into this the author, Rosy Thornton, adds as if she were stirring in ingredients to her evening supper: Martha the Senior Tutor with her depressed daughter and crumbling marriage. And the Dean to the college, Darren, who the "Tigresses" have targeting for their "snog" initiation.
So is it any good?
Well in despite of the cover and title, yes. Surprisingly so. There is dry humour:
"What's the worst they can do to us?" asked one pragmatist. It was not a rhetorical question: she was reading Law.
And an insight into human behaviour that plays out against the formal setting.
Yet ... some of the detail of the college politics could have been pruned back to allow the lives of Martha and Rycarte to take centre stage more. Even the Dean could probably go, especially as the book plays on Rycarte being a man in a woman only college.
It would have been better to just have stuck with Rycarte as the only man and Martha as the lead woman. When Rosy does she is brilliant. The book pulls you in and she has you.
Overall it is like reading an author who is finding her voice whilst the title and cover try to quiet her down with pink bikes and flowers.
I hope that Rosy throws the chick lit wrappings into the bin for her next book. I'd like to see what she can really do when let loose inside her characters heads with the setting an open stage instead of a closed curtain that they have to fight through.
Click on the image below to read the article Mirrors of Black Type, written by Rosy for the View From Here.