Sunday, 23 January 2011

Review: Playing the Game by Belle de Jour

Game over? Belle is starting to wonder if she should call time on the call girl business...get a day job, a life free from secrets and have a 'normal' relationship with the Boy. But will Belle cope with the nine-to-five, a staggering decline in her underwear budget and no more paid sex? As Belle explores life and love after the game, her story is frank, smart and refreshingly honest. Punctuated with advice, anecdotes and reflections in her inimitable voice, this is a novel of secrets and lies, scabrous wit and more than a little lust.

I loved the ‘Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl’ and its follow up. They were sharp, funny, and included as many taboo topics as possible. Belle’s voice was incredibly clear, and they became my dirty little secret read – because face it, whilst there are fabulous tips on love and life, most people who read her books are reading them for the explicit descriptions of her life as a call girl.

However ‘Playing the Game’ fell more than a little short. Riddled with typos, it felt rushed and too slow all at the same time. Rushed in that it didn’t feel edited, and too slow because the pacing was all wrong. In this novelised version of her life, she quits being a call girl less than a third of the way into the book and then ambles along through a nine to five job and a series of awful dates and relationships. It just felt a bit aimless. I think part of the charm and success about the first two books were they were non-fiction, candid recollections of a woman who was doing a job most of us wouldn’t have the guts to do, and telling us all the intimate details. It was the fantasy side of reality.

‘Playing the Game’ loses that shine, and whilst there were still very funny moments, ratings of dates, geeky references to ‘The Princess Bride’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica’, and lists of do’s and don’ts for the modern girl in any situation, it just didn’t do it for me.

There were a lot of moments that felt incredibly familiar, and I’m not sure if they were lifted from earlier books or moments from the television series, so it did feel like some of it was a bit of a cop out. There were several plot threads that weren’t tidied off, and considering this was supposed to be fiction, I expect at least a bit of that. In fact the end itself felt like a let down. It just wasn’t the Belle I’d grown to love from her first books.

So whilst I thoroughly recommend checking out Belle de Jour’s non-fiction books ‘Intimate Adventures’ and ‘Further Adventures’ I’d suggest giving ‘Playing the Game’ a miss. Why settle for second rate when she’s already given us the best?

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