Read of the Week

Being Lily

Qarnita Loxton

Kwela

Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

Being Lily is the follow-up to lawyer-author Qarnita Loxton’s debut novel, Being Kari.

I have not read Being Kari, but after plodding my way to the end of Being Lily, I became marginally more interested in its predecessor.

The story is about Lily de Angelo, who discovered the love of her life in her late 30s.

The odd couple – she is a rich, spoiled, white, plastic surgeon who has never needed to share a bathroom and he is a mixed-race businessman whose father rents a bathroom-less wendy house in Elsies River – are adding the finishing touches to their pending wedding. And, if that is not interesting enough for you, his gorgeous ex-girlfriend shows up, out of the Durban blue, with a younger carbon-copy version of herself – who may or may not be his daughter.

So, the embattled, and painfully absent in the book, Owen Fisher, does what any sane about-to-be-married man would do: he moves them into his fiancée’s best friend’s house – where he and his fiancée just happen to be living at the time.

It was a battle for me to get into this book, despite the juicy factor. The lead character is so far removed from anything I can relate to that it was difficult, at first, to sympathise with her very over-the-top, first-world problems. I nearly gave up but pushed ahead, and I’m relieved I did because the character becomes more likeable as the story builds, and eventually it became an entertaining bit of escapism.

The book reminded me strongly of the soap-opera-type novels by Jackie Collins or the Sweet Valley High twins – which are tolerable enough because they were written about people and places half a world away.

But Loxton, in Being Lily, bandies about the names of places I know, so it was strange for me to read about coke-sniffing 16-year-olds and botox-laced millionaire 30-somethings, because it just doesn’t mesh with the Cape Town I’m familiar with.

The book does have its moments, some of which are cringeworthy in their familiarity – like the awkward restaurant scene where the couple’s worlds-apart parents finally meet and the author has to explain the concept of a “backyarder” for reference.

Or the scene when another upper-crust character’s new boyfriend is first mistaken for “a suspicious-looking black man” and then a gardener.If you like juicy, escapist chick-lit, then you’ll enjoy this book.