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Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perry

kiss heaven goodbye perry1 Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perry

Secrets are defining, shaping things: the deeds, thoughts, feelings, that we conceal say a lot not only about who we are, but about the people we will become. Shared secrets, however, are something else again, relying on each involved party's trust in another's equivalent desire to maintain a secret. Tasmina Perry's fifth novel,'Kiss Heaven Goodbye, explores with unbridled glee the ways in which a secret cautiously held between a group of dissimilar individuals will always exist as a fraught undercurrent, with each participant trying desperately not to think of the repercussions of a secret coming to light. Indeed, in the case of the burdensome secret Perry's main characters have carried with them since their teens, a confession could have devastating consequences: Miles and Grace Ashford, Sasha Sinclair, and Alex Doyle have spent their turbulent lives trying to forget the body they left lying on the Ashford's private beachand trying to forget exactly how the body in question came to be lying there in the first place.

Perrys narrative takes a circular approach, with the opening chapter featuring the chronically disaffected and cynical entrepreneur Miles naming his sister and childhood friends as co-conspirators in the fateful crime; the novel then leaps back in time to the turning point moment in which, fearful for their reputations and futures, each decides to transform the simple (if rather disturbing) reality of a body on the beach into the rather more haunting skeleton in the closet. Its with a flair for the dramatic and rather a zest for the scandalous that Perry then begins to trace the tumultuous lives of her characters from adolescence through to middle age, until at last we arrive again at Miles's confession.

If I were to hold up a book as the prototypical beach read, Kiss Heaven Goodbye would be a fine contender. Perry is quite patently in her element, knowing exactly the sorts of conventions required here, and she achieves exactly what she sets out to: a witty and shrewd chicklit-style novel that revels in the debauched and the decadent.'Her writing is fast-paced and confident, and she has no qualms about skewering each of her characters time and time again with the painful retribution of karmic forces. Indeed, some of her characters by the end of the book rather resemble literary shish kebobs, rent as they have been by the exigencies of substance abuse, cheating partners, blackmailing business colleagues, assassination attempts, traitorous children, and ailing parents.

The sheer, bludgeoning force of Perry's characters' personalities is impressive, and it's hard not to take voyeuristic delight in watching their selfish manipulations and their monkeylike ability to shimmy up the rungs of the business and social world. The reader can't help but be drawn in to the utterly intransigent drive to succeed exhibited by characters such as Miles and Sasha, both of whom seek to reinvent themselves as independently, tremendously successful and who are utterly callous in the choices they make in order to build their empires. Watching the impressively brutal Sasha transform from a young girl aspiring vaguely to a modelling career and a life of lazy luxury into a true behemoth of the fashion industry is both alluring and horrifying, but its hard to look away. But for all her ice-queen exterior, there are moments, however, where Sasha softens, and we see (if youll pardon my mixing of metaphors) that her skin is perhaps not as chitinous as she likes to make out. Miles, however, is by far the more cruel of the two, and its with a mixture of revulsion and the pity that the reader follows his dramatic rise and fall. Petulant and competitive, Miles is tremendously fascinating in part because at times he scarcely seems to be grounded in reality: a true hedonist, he cares little for the consequences of his actions, and delights in creating all manner of furore and scandal.

The brash vulgarity of Miles and Sasha is mitigated somewhat by the milder characters of Grace and Alex, both of whom take more of an internal, introspective journey throughout their lives. A musical prodigy, Alex turns down a future at the Conservatory for the chance to make it as a musician on his own, while artistic Grace seeks solace from her oppressively wealthy and, well, simply oppressive, family by travelling overseas to make the most of her skills as a photographer. This isnt to say that the lives either of the two lead are mediocre in any way: between them we have marriages to would-be presidents of 'made-up South American countries (Parador, which presumably exists somewhere between Paraguay and Ecuador) and Hollywood starlets, car bombs, drug addictions and rehabilitations, sincerely disturbing love triangles, drunken mayhem in Japan, and various familial deaths, all of which this pragmatic duo seems to work through with relative ease.

No, theres no denying that Kiss Heaven Goodbye is utterly, gloriously over the top: its like watching an episode of Passions while flicking between Americas Next Top Model and Jerry Springer (but a'Jerry Springer aimed at the Trumps of the world). But goodness, its fun.

There are, however, a few missteps that detracted a little from the novel as a whole that I feel I should comment on, though: the most major of which is the sudden murder mystery revenge plot that emerges, Dr Evil-like, in the last fifty pages or so and that perhaps should have been done away with in editorial. I also felt that some of the transitions were a little rushed: large jumps in time result in major events simply being skipped over and reflected upon retrospectively rather than actually appearing in the book. And one cant help but feel that there are perhaps a few too many affairs and parental deaths, all of which seem to occur in rather disturbing proximity.

Still, in all, Kiss Heaven Goodbye is a tremendous beach read full of determined, unwavering characters who stubbornly revel in achieving their goals no matter what karma decides to throw at them as a result of their dark past. Its as over the top as a corset laced too tight, but like Miles and Sasha, its certainly not going to apologise for being the way it is.

Rating: star Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perrystar Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perrystar Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perryhalfstar Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perryblankstar Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perry

Purchase Kiss Heaven Goodbye.

With thanks to Headline Australia for the review copy.

See also our review of Private Lives (Rating: star Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perrystar Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perrystar Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perrystar Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perryblankstar Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perry)

Other books by Tasmina Perry:

daddys girls perry Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perryguilty pleasures perry Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perryoriginal sin perry Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perrygold diggers perry Review: Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perry

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