Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Guest Book Review: Kitty Charles - The Arcade: Episode 1 - The Vintage Boutique

Reviewed by Danielle Pullen

What do you dream of?

Gorgeous clothes, gourmet foods, beautiful men?

Whatever you wish for, Angell’s Arcade is all your dreams come true. Under its Victorian glass atrium, twelve little shops glow like gems– and the people who run them love and fight and sell for their lives.

As a new year beckons, the Arcade’s newest tenant, Faith, dreams of a new start – away from the front-line ambulance work she once loved. She’s hoping for a quiet life selling the vintage clothes she loves…

Hairdresser Marilyn dreams of glamour, of a man to take care of her, and of fitting into the next dress size down. But she’s not ready for the biggest shock of 2013.

And arcade owner Joan, who keeps an eye on the Arcadians’ lives – and loves –  from her apartment in the Gothic glass turret, is pulling the strings. But who is pulling hers?

As all the members of the Angell’s ‘family’ gather to see in the new year together, new rivalries, old loves and fresh passions fizz like champagne.

For at least one of them, things will never be the same again...
This tale of New Year’s scandal is the first of twelve monthly instalments – like your favourite soap, The Arcade brings you characters you love to hate – and to love. Each bite-sized episode is perfect for your journey to work, your lunch-break – or a quiet night of escapism. And it’ll leave you wanting more – with a teaser of next month’s storyline!

So what are you waiting for? Time to give into your dreams and sample the delights of Angell’s Arcade. Go on, take a look inside.

The Arcade is an innovative serialisation of several novellas (Episodes) all linked by the same cast of characters, location and themes. The Episodes focus on Angell’s Arcade, an exclusive nineteenth century shopping mall, consisting of a pick ‘n’ mix of shops. Each of the establishments is owned by a real character and each Episode delves into the life of a store-owner in more detail.

The first Episode in the series, The Vintage Boutique, introduces the reader to the history of the Arcade which almost has a life of its own. It was the dream of Frederick Angell to open a magical location where everyday people could come and buy into a lifestyle they may not have felt was appropriate for them. This sort of experience was unique and original at a time when most people considered shops were simply places where money exchanged hands for basic items.

Back in the present-day, Angell’s Arcade’s newest store is owned by Faith Moore, who arrives on New Year’s Eve to prepare to open her vintage boutique, Faith in the Past. We are quickly whisked into the story with the author giving us an insight into Faith’s past as well as tempting us with snapshots of some of the other characters we’ll hear more about in forthcoming Episodes: handsome and flashy Cartier van de Beur (the jeweller’s son), starchy and rude Eden (of Garden of Eden lingerie shop), Joan Collins “No, not that one, darling!”, (the current owner of Angell’s Arcade).

The idea of a serialisation such as this is not new. Charles Dickens’ material was often published in bite-sized chunks in the hope the reader would be left wanting more. Similarly, Stephen King serialised one of his novels in more recent times. However, The Arcade is unique in that each of the six Episodes in the series is written by a different, already best-selling, author (under the pseudonym of Kitty Charles). Also, this serialisation is hoping to attract an audience of non-readers who may not have the time or inclination to read a whole text, but who would manage one of these fast-paced, dialogue and plot-driven novellas in their lunch hour or on a rainy afternoon.

Whilst this is not the sort of text I would usually reach for, it did engage my attention on a cloudy Sunday morning under the covers and I would certainly pick up another Episode, if only to see how Faith’s store and love interest (oh, didn’t I mention that…) progresses.

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