Georgy Girl

By Margaret Forster

The book I am reading about the Beatles mentions this book’s plot. It was interesting enough to look up the movie on IMDb and wow–what glowing reviews it gets, from people who say it has stood the test of time. I always thought it was like Gidget, probably because the “Georgy Girl” song became the Barbie theme song. So I asked Mother today if she remembers it and she said it was really quite scandalous. Combined with the wikipedia article about the book (or some other review) that said it captured the mod culture, I am stoked.

This book is not the Austin Powers Romp that I expected. It has been described in a couple places as the perfect encapsulation of the Mods in London; the back of the book says it’s wildly hilarious and off-beat. It’s really just terribly sad. Definitely scandalous. I wonder what the sensibility of the 1960s was. Is it funny that there’s a vivacious girl who thinks she is ugly and washed up? Why is she such a doormat? I’m just not sure what I am supposed to make of the character. The roommate is clearly a bitch and portrayed as such–there’s no doubt what the author wants you to think about her. But the other characters are just repulsive. I am getting the feeling that the movie might be better than the book and I don’t know anyone who has seen the movie and I haven’t even gotten halfway through the book. A good actress (and it looks like they got one) could make Georgy seem spontaneous rather than dopey, and the right actor could make James seem less disgusting and pedophilic. AT LEAST the author has acknowledged that James is disgusting and pedophilic.

The most interesting part of the book right now is the love contract. Seriously. There’s a love contract, complete with thirty-day notice provisos. If that’s supposed to be a comic device it’s working because it’s the best thing I have seen in a book in a year.

The characters have become even less attractive. Good thing it’s a quick read or I’d drop it.

Everyone is unpleasant. Georgy should never have been left with that baby. In fact, the nurses should have let the mother give it up for adoption on the very first day that she said she wanted to. Georgy’s over-involvement with the infant is creepy, and Jos the father is a scumbag. James is repulsive and Georgy’s parents are unbelievably self-absorbed. Pat the neighbor (or whatever her name is) was dumbed down and infantilized beyond belief. It is nonetheless obvious why they made a movie of it and I find it entirely possible that the actors and directors redeem this story, but now I am very unsure that I want to see it. On the other hand, I got time to watch it! And Lynn Redgrave as Georgy intrigues me. Plus the other actors are way famous.

The only true emotion in this book was James’s uneasiness and ashamed apathy about his wife’s death. I totally bought that. It was a fantastic characterization of two people and a relationship, in very few words and without judgment or sentimentality. So Forster can definitely write.

Ultimately, this seems to be a readable first novel that got picked up for salaciousness. In the end I’m curious about two things: is Margaret Forster related to E.M. Forster and are her other books better?

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