ABOUT THE BOOK
In the 1973, teenagers Ange and Elizabeth are persuaded to enter the Miss Sladport-on-Sea Beauty Pageant by local entrepreneur, Spencer. When Ange is crowned the most beautiful woman in Sladport, Spencer promises her a life of fame and fortune – which he delivers. Within months, Ange is crowned The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.
Forty years later, Ange is unexpectedly invited to a reunion of old friends: Elizabeth - now married to Spencer - and the three school friends who stormed the pageant, throwing flour bombs and insults in protest at its objectification of women.
Old and Ugly is the story of that re-union - and the story of Ange’s life.
Hilarious and laughable, conceited and fearful, feisty and (some might say) a fool for the admiration of men, Ange must finally confront the truth about her fantastical life of glamour and good fortune to be freed from its secrets – and freed from the man who made her, then broke her.
Irreverent and moving, disturbing and joyful, you've probably never read anything quite like it...
PUBLISHED BY BEHIND THE HAT PRESS
This was an unexpected pleasure to read! I knew very little of the book or author before picking this up but was intrigued by the title and striking simplicity of the cover! There is nothing simple about the characters in this book!!
This is a 40 year reunion with a difference. You can sense a pretty dark undercurrent from the off, especially with Ange who isn't keen on going to the reunion when she is contacted by Elizabeth. But Elizabeth is very good at getting her own way and the stage is set for a reunion at the home of Elizabeth and Spencer.
What follows is a mix of looking back at how life has changed for these women - from the carefree days of their youth when Ange wins a beauty pageant, to the darker, more traumatic times that follow. The reunion allows them all a chance to confront the past - the shocking goings on that have shaped the women they became. They can settle scores, seek revenge - but will it make them feel any better?
What I appreciated most about these women was their honesty with one another, in a roundabout kind of way! While they were quick to make judgements and comments on appearances and lifestyle choices, they often found it more difficult to be more honest about the reality of life. The traumatic events that they kept hidden, mostly from themselves, none more so than in the case of Ange who was eating her feelings and living in a kind of bubble world where everything turned out perfectly for her. ..... it didn't!
She finds confidence though in an unexpected ally - Henry, the son of Elizabeth and Spencer - and in him, she allows herself to speak a little more openly about past experiences and make sense of it all.
The more time the women spend together, the more they find they have in common than they think - all hiding parts of themselves so they can keep up appearances. It's touching, dark, traumatic, funny - a real emotional rollercoaster of a read! You become quite attached to these women so find yourself willing them to bury those ghosts that have haunted them for way too long...
My thanks to Behind The Hat Press for sending me a copy to read in return for an honest review.