Book Review: Helen of Troy by Tess Collins

Helen of TroyHelen of Troy
Tess Collins
BearCat Press, January 2012
ISBN: 978-1-937356-00-2

Helen, of Troy Hardware, ends up in the middle of a mid life crisis. Will she stay and work things out with her husband Rudy, the same husband whom she caught kissing her oldest and best friend? Or will she be tempted to give it all up and start a new life with the mysterious but alluring Garland Cookson, a man from her past who stirs up all kinds of memories. Not if Garland’s sister has anything to do with it she won’t.

You know, I read this book a week ago and already I’ve forgotten the exact plot. This title is entertaining, well written and will certainly help you while away a rainy afternoon, but it won’t end up on the English Literature syllabus anytime soon. I’m afraid that it’s another example of a ‘romance’ title that will inevitably be soon forgotten in that oversaturated market. The plot is loosely based on that old epic, Helen of Troy. You know the one. Ended up starting a war involving lots of Greek men and took an age to get home. Well, this book is roughly the same only it’s set in modern day Tennessee and involves Helen, a married woman with a rough and ready husband, various townsfolk and the oft-required mysterious male who strides back into town with a tragic past and has a bitch of a sister.

It’s a gentle enough story that’s very easy to read but I think what let it down for me, was the slightly farcical ending. I just couldn’t believe that most of the town would end up taking sides between husband and wife that often descended into snowball fights and building ice homes. I mean, we do some crazy stuff here in Ireland but basically, if someone is having marital troubles we do the normal thing and talk about it behind their backs. You won’t catch me taking a snowball to the face to defend the honour of two people who should know better. Then again, maybe I’m being too harsh. My idea of a good romance is Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice and consequently, very few modern titles live up to those lofty ideals. And after all, the book is well written with a good pace throughout. The characters are well rounded and there is just the right amount of intrigue and high jinx to keep you interested. If romance or chick lit is your thing, then this is a title that shouldn’t disappoint. Or if like me, you prefer your romance to have mad wives locked away in attics and lashings of high class snobbery, then maybe just stick to the classics.

Reviewed by Laura McLaughlin, October 2012.