Author: Shirley Conran
Date Published: 28th July, 1983
“Which one of you bitches is my mother?”
The single, scathing question sets the tone for the rest of the story.
Lace is a mammoth sized book – 600+ pages – that details the lives of four young girls at a Swiss boarding school and leads on into their adult lives.
Lace was published years ago and probably was on every teenage girls “to-read” list back in the day… except me. For some reason I had never heard about it until it was recently recommended by a friend. I purchased it and subsequently got absorbed in a rich tale of scandal, debutantes, oil magnates, princes and much more.
The story began with a gritty abortion scene that made me wonder what I’d gotten myself into. But it quickly flowed into the key scene of the story where a mysterious celebrity, Lili meets with four women – Kate, Judy, Maxine and Pagan – to discover which of them is her mother.
Shirley Conran then begins to tell the story of each of their lives in a series of flashbacks. Taking us from Switzerland to London, Paris to the Middle East, New York and even Hungary. All this while, it keeps you guessing who really is Lili’s mother as you realise it could have been any of them.
The climax of the novel, the big reveal, was my jaw dropping moment of the book. I know I don’t always get mysteries right, but this was quite beyond what I could ever imagine. It was well worth the wait.
Beyond the scandal, drama and colourful sex lives of the characters, I feel Lace was really a book about friendship, learning about life and coming into one’s self. It was sad, inspiring and heart wrenching all at once. The clothing and trends might be different from now, but the personalities of the characters, the emotions and experiences are just as relevant as ever.
Rating? Considering how absorbed I was with it, I’ll happily score it a 9/10. It’s definitely not a story I’ll be forgetting in a hurry.