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Author Interview: Tilly Bagshawe on Adored

Adored by Tilly BagshaweUnlike many women of my generation, I did not grow up reading Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins. Tilly Bagshawe did, though, and the quotidian comedy of chick lit made her long for the outré thrills of the glitz-and-glamour tradition. Thus, Adored.

I enjoyed this big, fat, juicy novel, and I think Bagshawe shows considerable promise as a writer. It’s hard—I think—in this day and age, to do melodrama straight, but Bagshawe manages quite nicely. Neither ironic nor totally humorless, she presents over-the-top characters and a consistently outrageous plot in a pleasingly unadorned, straightforward style. Bagshawe’s goal is entertainment, and—as far as I’m concerned—she succeeds.

There was one element of the novel that disturbed me a little: Siena, the main character, is subjected to rather graphic brutality, and she emerges from her near-death experience a better person. I just wasn’t sure that redemptive violence really belongs in a trashy novel. I wanted to ask Bagshawe about it when I interviewed her, but it’s not really my job, when I’m working for a major bookstore chain, to ask the incisive questions. Ted, my brilliant husband, came up with a delicate way to perhaps get close to the issue—“There are some dark moments in this novel, and some violent scenes. Was it difficult to write these passages?”—but she didn’t quite answer the question I didn’t quite ask. Her response, though, was interesting: She suggested that fiction is a place where authors and readers can explore the “dark side” of the imagination.

I realized that I tend to regard fictional events as real—or virtually real-when they offend me; that is, I wonder if authors should allow terrible things to happen. (I get especially touchy when these terrible things are violence against women, children, or animals.) Obviously, the intersection of ethics, entertainment, and aesthetics is highly contested territory, so I’m still thinking about the implications of Bagshawe’s sadistic scenes and her comments about them. You can think about them, too, or you can stop thinking—it is summertime, after all—and read Adored.

July 5, 2005 | Permalink

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