Stalking Richard & Judy – Valentine Honeyman

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I am a massive fan of Richard & Judy, so when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. The central character is Jeremy Canty, an author who has written many critically acclaimed novels, but has failed to sell many copies and so is struggling with his finances. Richard & Judy announce their latest book club choices and he is shocked to discover that one of his biggest rivals has been selected, and so will no doubt end up topping the fiction charts and securing his future. Jeremy is incredibly jealous and so decides he’ll do anything to ensure his book ends up on the next Richard and Judy list.

I loved the first chapter of this book. I was crying with laughter as I read the descriptions of Richard and Judy. The gentle parody was spot on, and the descriptions of their affect on the publishing industry was fantastic.

Now imagine this. Every so often, two fairies fly round the country. From time to time they pick a cleaner out of the blue and touch their polyester pinny with their magic wands. And lo! Those cleaners become millionaires. Millionaires! Can you imagine what that would be like? Well, that’s exactly what happens to a starving writer when he or she gets on the R&J book list. Richard and Judy are those fairies, and when they touch a lucky writer with their magic wands, she casts off her polyester pinny and goes out to buy a new one. At Versace.   

Unfortunately Richard and Judy weren’t present in the majority of the book – Jeremy stalks the person responsible for creating the list, and not R&J themselves (as the title suggests). This is probably more realistic, but far less entertaining to read about. There were a few funny moments, but I found that much of the book was light and fluffy, lacking that special spark present in the first chapter. There were also a few times when I thought it over stepped the mark – the abuse of Gillian McKeith, in particular, went a bit too far.

It was nice to see that the Jeremy was gay, as I have seen very few books with a gay central character and some of his antics were quite amusing! This book does contain a lot of sexual references and swearing, so should be avoided by anyone who is sensitive to that sort of thing.

Overall, this was a light, entertaining read and I recommend it to all Richard and Judy fans.

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27 Comments

  1. Verity says:

    I always feel a bit snobby about R + J reads. I’m not sure why as there have been some very good titles, especially Patrick Gale’s Notes from an exhibition. Somehow I prefer to have read them before htey end up on the R+J list. Anyway, as you know I have this book too and I am looking forward to it, as I like a light, fluffy read for reading it bed.

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, Don’t be snobby! So many of my favourite books have come from the R&J list: Time Traveller’s Wife, Cloud Atlas, My Sister’s Keeper, Notes on a Scandal, Random Acts of Heroic Love…. I miss them. I hope that you enjoy the book.

  2. Rachel says:

    I am with Verity, I tend to feel really superior and snobby about R+J reads, largely because they saturate the book market with their little stickers and everyone and their mother ends up reading the SAME book. It discourages independent thinking! I know this is wrong but I just can’t help myself! Even so I can’t fault their choice of The Time Traveler’s Wife so they certainly didn’t do a bad job, though most of their books were unmemorable holiday reads judging from the stacks of R+J branded books I find in charity shops…

    1. Verity says:

      Yes – I think you’ve put your finger on it Rachel – I don’t like reading what EVERYONE else is reading and especially not when it has a nasty sticker on the front – ick!

      1. Jackie says:

        Verity, You can always remove the sticker!

        1. You can’t always remove the sticker. Sometimes they print them on… EVIL!

          1. Rachel says:

            Yes exactly! The stickers are a nightmare! Sometimes they’re stuck so fast they don’t come off or as Novel Insights says – sometimes they are *GASP* PRINTED ON! Sacrilege!

          2. Jackie says:

            Sorry – I’m just not really bothered about stickers. I barely look at the covers of books – I’m far more interested in the words. Sorry to hear you have such a problem with it. I hope that in future the stickers are easy to remove/not present to start with!

    2. Jackie says:

      Rachel, I loved the fact that everyone was reading the same books, as it was the one time I was actually able to talk to other people about books. I’m not sure it discouraged independant thinking, as most people who read Richard and Judy books didn’t actually read that many books and so I think it actually helped the publishing industry by encouraging people who didn’t normally do so to buy them.

      I have to disagree about the unmemorable holiday reads too. The books were of a high standard in general. I think the piles in charity shops are simply due to the number of copies sold and the fact that everyone has already read them, so less likely to buy from charity shops.

      1. Rachel says:

        Yes it is nice to have read a book a lot of other people have read too, but I am just a bit of a book snob so I like to read stuff that is off the beaten path rather than in a 3 for 2 offer in Waterstones! I think my main issue really is that it’s not about books that R+J have read and enjoyed, it’s about new releases that publishers who make the loudest noises and have the most money can convince them to endorse. At least with Oprah you get a nice mix of classics and more unusual literature as well as the latest modern fiction, but with R+J it just seems to be largely forgettable hyped up latest releases that are all very similar, hence the piles of discarded copies in charity shops. I find it a bit of a lazy way to sell and choose books really. Personally I don’t need a TV presenter to choose me a book to read.

        Even so, despite my misgivings, I do think some of the reads have been good and I agree with you in the respect that it has encouraged people who wouldn’t normally read much to read more. At the end of the day that can only be a good thing!

        1. Jackie says:

          Rachel, I do love to read books that are off the beaten path too, but I often get disappointed when noone else has read an amazing book I’ve just finished. The blog helps to locate people who have read the book, but I often enjoy bookish conversation rather than reading and so I do tend to stick towards more well known texts.

  3. Meghan says:

    Because I’m American I notice this trend much more in regards to Oprah. She picks a book and magically everyone flocks to buy and read it. She doesn’t pick bad books, but for literary snobs reading the books she’s chosen is then unthinkable. I don’t really get this. If it’s a good book, why does it matter if Oprah’s endorsed it or not?

    I’m not surprised that Richard and Judy do the same thing over here – I’ve never seen their show or really paid attention to what they endorsed so I haven’t noticed it for myself!

    1. Jackie says:

      Meghan, Yes – Richard and Judy were the UK equivalent of Oprah. I’m not sure how you managed to miss it if you live in the UK – they were everywhere! I don’t really understand the snobbery around their selections – I agree a good book remains good no matter who else reads + recommends it.

      1. Meghan says:

        Oh, I see the stickers, but I’ve never seen the show or anything! I didn’t realize how much influence they had.

  4. Beth F says:

    I don’t “follow” either, but I’m not turned off or particularly influenced by the books picked by these TV celebs. I’m just happy that there are famous people out there encourage their fans to read!

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, I followed Richard and Judy very closely and am sad that they aren’t on TV any more. It was great when such famous people promoted reading and I’m sad that there doesn’t appear to be anyone taking their place.

  5. I love the premise of this one, and the way that it’s captured the zeitgeist in the bookworld about Richard and Judy novels. Sounds like a lighthearted read and I suppose that’s what we all need sometimes. I wonder if it would be as interesting to people who aren’t as obsessed with books as us!? Nice review Jackie.

    1. Jackie says:

      Novel Insights, It is an entertaining read, but I don’t think it will appeal people who are obsessed with books. It is more geared towards fans of chick lit (or the gay equivalent). It does have some very funny sections!

  6. Rachel says:

    I think this debate has just revealed the book snob in me! It is always good to be able to discuss books with others who have read them, and to feel involved in what’s current in the book world. Sometimes I feel I am stuck in the 30’s with the books I read and rarely find people in real life who have read what I’m reading which I do find disappointing so I completely see what you mean!

    I see further down you say that if a book is good it doesn’t matter who recommends it and I agree 100% on that. I suppose it’s just a sign of my own snobbery that I like to be seen with a different book to everyone else! I do read R&J choices…just years later! It took me about four years to read The Time Traveler’s Wife and I did regret waiting that long, I must admit. What other R&J reads would you recommend, Jackie?

    1. Jackie says:

      Rachel, There are so many great R&J reads! I listed a few in my first reply to Verity, but you might like The Luminous Life of Lily Aphrodite or Mr Pip. The Kite Runner, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and Half of a Yellow Sun were all R&J choices too – so many good books!

      1. Verity says:

        Half of a yellow sun was good.

  7. Annabel says:

    R&J reads fulfill a need – I’ve read many and enjoyed them, so this sounds fun. I met Richard Madeley back in the 1980s when I appeared on a quiz show he was hosting for Granada – I would say not a lot’s changed!
    BTW You should read Ben Goldacre’s ‘Bad Science’ on Gillian McKeith and her ilk – can’t help but agree with him.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I would love to meet Richard Madeley – I think he has a fantastic personality. I’m very jealous!

      I can imagine what is said about McKeith in Bad Science and while I don’t agree with the lengths she goes to in some cases she does seem to produce results. I just felt that some of the things said in this book stepped over the line and became abusive. I cringed when I read them and hope that Gillian isn’t upset by them (ie I hope she never reads it, as those words would upset anyone)

  8. Sandy says:

    Since I live over here across the pond, I know nothing about R&J, except for what I read from you and Simon. If I were to equate it with Oprah, I would tell you that I do my very best to avoid her picks, just because they become SO mainstream. Once in awhile, I accidently read something that I wasn’t aware was on her list, then I grumble. Yes, yes, yes, I usually like the book. Still, I do not want to be labelled a follower. In the case of the most recent one, “Say You’re One of Them”, I actually read it first, so there! I think Oprah provides a majority of the people literary direction. The average person doesn’t follow blogs, or obsessively read EW for recommendations. And generally the books are good, so it is a win/win for them.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a follower. Reading EW for recommendations could be classed as the same – you are just selecting from a larger range of books. If you were really trying to be independant you’d never read any blogs/press and just select books based on the their blurbs. Oprah will tend to select good books and so if you aren’t going to read many books I think her selections would be a good place to start.

  9. Simon S says:

    I like the premise for this book and if I saw it dirt cheap I might give it a go. I am not snobbish about Richard and Judy reads as you know as we read a lot of their choices earlier in the year and the Kate Atkinson, Kate Summerscale and Beatrice Colin books are all some of my favourite reads.

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, I wishe there were more R&J followers in the blogging world, but we do seem to be the only ones. I think you’d enjoy this book, so I hoe you find a copy one day.

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