V. C. Andrews [also published as Virginia Andrews]
Forbidden Sister (Forbidden, Book 1)
Simon & Schuster Pocket (US & CA: 26th February 2013; UK: 14th March 2013; AU: 1st April 2013)
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I’ve been particularly generous with these comfort-read ratings, so even these two stars are probably over-the-top. But this Forbidden series is especially dodgy, as I learned from The Forbidden Heart novella last year.
There is so much shaming, it’s hard to know where to begin. Virgin shaming, slut shaming, fat shaming, French shaming, escort shaming, sister-of-escort shaming, non-military shaming, orphan shaming, and those are just off the top of my head – there’s probably more. So many unlikable characters, stereotyping, and generalising.
For many unexplained reasons, Roxy Wilcox’s parents kicked her out, or she left, when she was fifteen. During the next six years, she became a high-priced escort (because of course she’s too beautiful to work the streets or whatever). That’s right, ladies and gentleman – a sex worker named Roxanne. I can’t remember the lyrics to that Police song, but I know Flight of the Conchords’ “You Don’t Have to Be a Prostitute”, so I’ve got the gist of it.
Roxy’s mother, Vivian, is from Paris, and reportedly she had an older sister who was quite like Roxy. So Roxy’s dad clearly figures the “bad behaviour” is genetic. And French. Not American. So therefore not his fault, or whatever. I just don’t believe that Americans are any less prudish than the French. YOU’RE ALL AS PRUDISH AS EACH OTHER, PEOPLE – HUG IT OUT!
So, how French is this family? So French that Emmie (six years younger than Roxy, and who narrates this novel) has been having wine with dinner for years. Because the French are winos, seems to be the insinuation. But I don’t believe that Americans are any less drunk than the French. YOU’RE ALL AS DRUNK AS EACH OTHER, PEOPLE – HUG IT OUT! How much of a wino is Emmie? Enough that at her boyfriend’s family dinner, she gives an instructional demonstration of how to properly taste wine, and how to pronounce if it’s any good. Which of course it is, because rich folk aren’t drinking to get drunk on cheap plonk. You know on Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure when James blows a whistle anytime someone (including himself) is being a “wine ponce”? This scene in the book is one big whistle-blow.
You don’t have to be a promiscuous French wino to be offended by this novel. I’m hoping the sequel will be a little less awful, but it likely won’t be.