Based on the success of her first novel, author Johanna Kingsley is one of the few who should have become a household name. SCENTS did sell over a million copies. But like many of her peers her subsequent novels didn’t fare as well, forcing her eventually to vanish into thin air. Not so, it seems. According to this, she just keeps re-inventing herself, using other pseudonyms such as Jeanne Day Lord, Jessica March or Angelica Moon, just to name a few. Her real name is Robert Rosenblum and he is a multitasker who has chosen to stay out of the spotlight. There isn’t much to say about him, except that he owns a Twitter account that has been non-active for more than three years. But whatever’s been going on with him, it is clear to say that it’s time to celebrate this fellow. But there’s a catch. As I was all set to praise his work after finishing up his second Kingsley offering, FACES, it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t dig him as much as I thought I would. The reason is quite simple: the novel left a bad taste in my mouth. What a guy to do, then? Forget him or just go on? What follows speaks for itself.
FACES centers around Eugenia Sareyov, a beautiful Russian who flees her homeland to come to America where she’ll eventually be courted by a rich man’s son and an artsy-fartsy hunky type before settling with… well, I don’t want to spoil anything too major for you. One thing I can say is that she’ll become the biggest plastic surgeon there is. But before getting there she’ll suffer heartbreaks, heartaches, and partake in a couple of well-described sexual situations. Her greatest challenge, however, will be mending her rocky relationships with her long-lost parents, especially her disfigured dad whom she had shied away from after he nearly got killed in an explosion during the Russian revolution. Guess who’ll end up with a reconstructed face later on?
Taken with a grain of fluff, FACES may excite some readers. It has all the ingredients necessary: a strong-willed female protagonist, opulent wealth and sceneries, sex; but for some strange reasons the novel doesn’t gel with me. What bothers me most about it is the way it tends to always go for the saccharine-glaze jugular. As if readers couldn’t hold on to the story otherwise. In effect, it causes the book to be bland, repetitive, even passionless at times. And Rosemblaum’s lack of empathy for his Little Miss Perfect makes it an even harder chore to finish. One thing that’s in the author’s favor, though, is his strong use of a rich, crystal clear narrative, which is highly exemplary for any budding writer out there. If only it was accentuated by a fulfilling plot. Oh well. Let’s just hope his other offerings by the Kingsley name fare better, but I doubt that I will visit them, or any work by his other pseudonyms, come to think of it.
Until next post—Martin