Monday, December 8, 2008

The Misadventures of Oliver Booth by David Desmond

Oliver Booth is one of those people that you either despise or feel sorry for, sometimes at the same time. His character has absolutely no redeeming qualities, and the author is quick to let you know that no one else on the planet seems to like him very much either. In fact, Desmond works so hard to make us dislike Oliver that it is really difficult to read about him, or care what happens to him, unless you enjoy reading about people who are constantly embarrassed and miserable.
Oliver Booth is an "antiques" dealer in Palm Beach, Florida, where he runs a shop full of replicas that nobody ever sees, because he gets hardly any business. When he is lucky enough to acquire a sales clerk who is intelligent, friendly, and French, his luck begins to turn around. He is noticed by one of the wealthiest women in town, and he and Bernard are sent to Paris to choose antiques to decorate her guest house. Mrs. Van Buren sends them because of Bernard, not because of Oliver, and she seems to think that it is her place to see that Oliver is continually humiliated. "People like Oliver" need to be taught a lesson. A lesson in what? How to not try to be something you are not? In Oliver's case he is constantly pretending he is part of the upper-class society of Palm Beach, which he can never join due to his lack of money and good looks.
This whole book was an inside joke about the society of Palm Beach - it could be called satire, but it was so full of stereotypes and cliches that it lacked the bite that most satires have. I generally don't enjoy watching as people make fools of themselves, so I really did not enjoy watching Oliver bumble through life, but I understand that I am in the minority there. I suppose that I just do not find the foibles of the really-rich to be all that funny, and the bad and cliched dialogue and superficial, stereotypical characters certainly added nothing to the story. Overall, if more books are written about Oliver and his hi-jinks (which it seems is the case), I will not be reading them.

1 comment:

lilly said...

Hi Jeska,

I have tagged you for the Survey: what your music says about you. I have the questions posted on my blog and i can't wait to see yours.