The International Writers Magazine: Reviews
Sapphire by Katie Price
Richard Crawley Review
Aristotle, the Ancient-Greek philosopher and forefather of Western composition, once noted that all writing should, "give voice to the common people, that it should speak with their language" and perhaps nowhere in contemporary literature has that idiom been embraced quite so completely than in the books of one Katie Price.
Ghost-written by Rebecca Farnworth, Sapphire is Price's fourth novel [following the undeniable, if not somewhat unbelievable, success of the Angel Uncovered trilogy] and follows the eponymous Sapphire Jones as she attempts to juggle running a high-end lingerie business with the continual hunt for a man on the supposedly champagne-soaked streets of seaside Brighton.
Now, one could pose the argument here that Sapphire is simply an, admittedly tacky, product of the zeitgeist; that Price has subtly subverted ancient character archetypes to reinvent the modern novel; to make it relevant for the droves of young women who had never so much as read a takeaway menu before Jordan started knocking out books. Except they would be wrong. They would be dead wrong. For if this novel were self aware, even for an instant, then it would grow legs and find fire. The writing is coarse, awkward and without flair, the characterisations rice-paper thin and Price's dialogue infested with the kind of cheese-grater-rough slang you overhear on the back seats of buses at eleven thirty on a Saturday night.
"I sucked him off, proper" was a particular standout.
So, if you picked up Sapphire hoping to witness a reclaiming of the written word for the common people, for the common woman perhaps, then I am afraid you will be sadly disappointed.
But the fact that Price's books have outdone commercial sales of The Bible in the last six months must mean that there is something more here, something I'm missing; some secret codex weaved between the lines and visible only to the flocks of women who gobble up Price's offerings as though her words were liquid honey.
Well... perhaps. As escapism for young women who have no aspirations beyond fame and fornication, this novel rates only one rung lower than cheap cider and a cheaper still nightclub for a way to spend a wet Wednesday afternoon. In a world equally infatuated and infested with the cult of celebrity, this easy to swallow fiction offers those who want it a quick-fix magic mirror into a land of glossy magazines, snapping paparazzi and front-page headlines.
One thing Sapphire is therefore, if nothing else, is contemporary. If this book were food it would be a donor kebab with all the fatty trimmings. If it were drink it would be a sugary alcopop that dyes one's tongue green for weeks on end. If it were music, it would be a blaring, soulless electro pop beat and if it were a country, then I'm afraid this novel would most definitely be Great Britain circa 2009.
Let's be clear though- this is not a good thing.
You see, what I’m trying to communicate here is that whilst Price's words might be painted up pink and pretty, there is something ugly at the root of this book. Sapphire Jones, aside from having a name perfectly suited to the porn industry, seems to be everything that is wrong with modern woman tied together and given literal form. She might be a successful entrepreneur but her aspirations are all material, her hopes and dreams all bound it up in things. She has rejected any notion of spiritual growth and has instead invested herself entirely in the pleasures of the flesh and of the here and now- the immediate, cheap thrill. When Sapphire tells us that "she doesn't make love, she has sex" we believe her, because after only a few pages it's clear that the woman is not capable of such a base emotion as love.
Which is ironic, because the difference between this book and other, more soulful gems of the genre [H.B Gilmore's Clueless and Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife spring to mind] is the difference between making love and having sex.
Making love is full of soul and passion and leaves you with a warm bubble of joy in your belly. Sex is cold, anti-septic and ultimately soulless; leaving you with an immediate urge to shower.
This book is definitely sex. Cold and sterile sex. Nothing more, nothing less
Aristotle would be proud.
Richard Crawley November 2009
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