Book Review: The Brazilian by Rosie Millard
A couple of years ago I was asked to review a debut novel, The Square by Rosie Millard. I enjoyed the book, so I was delighted when I was recently asked to review Millard’s follow-up book, The Brazillian.
Although this is a follow-up book featuring many of the same characters, you don’t really need to have read The Square in order to appreciate The Brazillian. Where the first book is centred around the lives of people living in a square in London, the second features a few people from that square, who all happen to be on holiday in Ibiza at the same time.
I loved that Millard has chosen the characters I most enjoyed from the first book, and continued their capers for the second. Uptight middle class housewife Jane is planning a holiday in an exclusive villa with her husband (to whom she barely speaks) and her son (to whom she seems to speak even less). She’s hired a neighbour’s daughter to care for the child while they’re there. At the same time, other residents of the square – completely unbeknown to Jane – have signed up to take part in a reality TV show on the island.
The book is told from several different perspectives, which is great because you get to see what everyone is thinking – including the long-suffering producer of the terrible reality show. One thing that did bother me is in the way the book is written though. The sentence structure was quite confusing to me and seemed to flit between different tenses. For example:
At lunchtime, she leaves the table and hides in the shared ensuite bathroom in order to fumble with her phone, get online, swiftly find a nightclub, check out the map, send the details to Jas and wait for a reply. She had to achieve all of this, she knew, with a very slow online connection. The subterfuge makes her sweaty, her fingertips sliding all over the touchscreen.
There are lots of bits like this in the book which made it hard for the story to really flow in places – I found I kept going back to re-read sentences to try and figure out what they really meant.
That said, this was a good read and incredibly funny in places. It pokes fun at the privileged upper middle class as well as that cult of celebrity and desperation to be on TV that seems to have permeated our culture these days. I loved the way the story unfolded, and the way it ended. For me, this was a great summer read which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The story is engaging and interesting, and the large number of character perspectives only adds to the narrative, without making it hard to follow. I like that the characters are not two-dimensional and predictable; even the ones who seem terribly vacuous are actually quite relatable in places. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good book that doesn’t require huge concentration, especially those who read and enjoyed The Square.
The Brazilian is released today.
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