Thursday, 18 April 2013

P is for Pagan

Cover of "Lace"
Cover of Lace
I first read Shirley Conran's Lace when I was a teenage girl and probably too young to do so. I found it exotic and exciting and because I knew I probably shouldn't have been reading it, I felt daring and naughty and oh so grown up. I longed to lead the kind of life portrayed in the book instead of the humdrum one I had going on in small-town England, and as Pagan was the English girl I found myself casting myself in her role, although of all the main characters she was probably the one who was the least in charge of her own destiny.

Often dismissed by the literary world as just raunchy chick-lit, I recently re-read Lace to see what I thought of it now that I'm (apparently) a grown-up. And I'd have to say that although it's definitely raunchy, it's too dark for chick-lit and it actually addresses a lot of the harrowing elements of life: abortion, adoption, rape, the sex industry and adultery, to name a few. And the girl doesn't always get the boy in the end either.

But what I ultimately took away from it is that it's a story about friendship, and love, and loyalty. And it's also a story about women making their own way in the world. Pagan comes from an old aristocratic family whose way of life is disappearing. She's been bred to be a wife and not much more and after finishing school, where all of the main characters meet at the start of the story, she drifts into marriage with the wrong man and is a bored society wife living the ex-pat life in Egypt. I chose her out of all of the characters in the book as for me she was the most real, the most loyal of all the friends, and the one that needed looking out for the most. 

Even though it was 25 years between readings, the story drew me in just as much the second time around, although this time I could recognise that its real message appeared to be that women deserved to have orgasms! 
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  1. Not something I would probably ever read but I can appreciate the fact that you re-read it and found deeper themes. Books are always different the second time...

  2. Yes we do!! It's funny what we take away from books when we reread them.

  3. There are a few books I have considered rereading as an adult (as opposed to when we folded pages over for easier access during lunch time in middle school to share with friends)

  4. I've seen the TV serial based on the book and loved it.

  5. Like Suzy I have watched this on TV and the book and I was entranced by the tale and loved it.


  6. Hi Amanda .. I've never read any of hers .. but I guess I should and it would be 'an easy read' ... I need to perhaps revisit a few of those early raunchy novels .. Georgette Heyer - not really, but I'm sure the Georgian times are set out clearly .. and Angelique for Paris and raunch and alchemy, which I rather have an interest in ..

    Cheers Hilary

  7. Sometimes I like to re-read stories of characters I enjoyed living vicariously through--like Jane Eyre, Miss Zukas, and Hester Latterly. No matter how many times I've read a story, I always find or think about something new. Now, that's a good story.
    Don't be a Hippie
    Take 25 to Hollister