Sidone slowly came onto the stage. She was wearing a riding outfit and a black, feathered hat. With an eye patch. And a riding whip. Vaisy whispered to me, “That’s what I wear when I am Black Beauty.” I whispered back, “What, you wear an imaginary eye patch when you are your imaginary horse?” She said, “Yes.” I smiled to myself. This is the life. Proper friends who share everything together.
– A Midsummer Tight’s Dream
Crikey! Do you crave a mirthful little respite from reality? Then fetch some of your fabby mates and have a girls’ night and a good gos about the cast of the zany Tallulah Casey novels. Don’t blame me for the slang, this is the way Brits talk, and it makes everything they say sound funnier than if they just spoke Yankee. This is the second in the new young adult series by Louis Rennison, who made her name writing the Georgia Nicolson diary series that began famously with Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging. Tallulah is Georgia’s cousin, so for those who are missing Georgia, (ten books weren’t enough?) Tallulah reflects on a bit of Georgia’s “wisdomosity,” every once in a while. Here’s a Georgian gem: to get boys to like you, you have to flick your hair around almost constantly. It’s practically Taoist.
Rennison borrows merrily from the canon of British literature; Talullah reveres Em, Chaz and Anne (the Bronte Sisters). There is ample homage to Stella Gibbons’ cheeky wit (the village bad boys are Seth, Ruben and Cain Hinchcliff). In order to study the performing arts, Tallulah attends school in Heckmondwhite, where she lives with a family whose father attends “Inner Woman” groups. The entire village is peopled with outlandish, histrionic characters: take for instance the scourge of the Dother Hall girls, the formidably rumped townie, Ecclesiastica Bottomly. Ah well, it’s all just too silly to bang on about in a blog dedicated to high-toned literary works.
Tallulah and her girlfriends are obsessed with fame, boys, looks, and the progress of the their burgeoning corkers (those are breasts, as I learned). It’s been decades since I was a teenaged girl but I am thinking Rennison’s not bloody far off the mark. These books seem like a fun choice for a teen book group. As with the Georgia Nicholson series (and also with Wuthering Heights, come to think of it), these books have tiresome, repetitive portions. Nevertheless, they are diverting. I kept thinking about how much fun Rennison must have had writing them.
Perhaps it would be larky to read Withering Tights, A Midsummer Tight’s Dream and Taming of the Tights, along with the works from which Rennison derives her titles. Have a simply smashing book group!