Leah's Reviews > Manhattan

Manhattan by Ronni Cooper
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's review
Nov 21, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: for-review, books-read-2011, favorites
Read from December 08 to 10, 2011

Manhattan by Rooni Cooper is a book I read without any pre-conceived notions. I haven’t read Ronni’s debut novel, Rock Chicks, so I went into the book blind. Ronni has made the switch from the music scene to the writing scene (although you won’t find her on the music scene under Ronni Cooper as I’m almost sure it’s a pseudonym) and I was massively impressed with Manhattan. There’s something so satisfying about being surprised by a book, and I found Manhattan to be a fast-paced novel that was very, very hard to put down. I love discovering new authors and it looks like Ronni has made a successful transition, and the fact she’s able to use her insider music knowledge makes for an even better collaboration.

Manhattan reminded me very much of the early-days Louise Bagshawe. Career Girls, The Devil You Know, Tall Poppies, all the earlier Bagshawe novels were about women fighting their way to the top and taking on big, horrible people in the process and Manhattan is very reminiscent of that, as Cooper’s three heroines all battle with inner demons and horrible men to end up with lives that are their own, rather than ones that have been forced on them due to unseen circumstances. Novels like that are my favourite kind because they just get down to business, and the story is allowed to be told without interruption, without the inner monologues of first-person Chick Lit novels. Every once in a while I want to read about heroines that aren’t stupid, that aren’t pining for men, and that pretty much takes me into a world I’ll never know anything about and Manhattan does that perfectly.

I actually thought the synopsis was a bit misleading. The synopsis hints at the novel being all about Manhattan, the nightclub the three ladies co-own, but that’s actually a massive (unintentional) spoiler. The novel isn’t about that at all, in fact it’s actually a small part of the novel because the novel itself is about how they got to that point of owning New York’s biggest nightclub. It’s how Raine, Mei-Lin and Stevie’s lives began. How Raine became a nightclub owner, how Mei-Lin became a madam, how Stevie became a rock chick. It’s about how these bum-kicking girls got their payback on the people that wronged them/hurt them. And it’s good, too. It’s such a ride to see Raine mete out her revenge, to see Mei-Lin use her abilities to the best of her advantage, and to see Stevie rock out with her band. Each of the three women are successful at what they do (even if in Mei-Lin’s case, it’s probably not something to celebrate being good at) and I liked seeing how they dealt with what life had thrown at them, Mei-Lin’s being the most horrific but the most satisfying once it got to its conclusion.

Manhattan was just an excellent read. I really loved it and the best part was I didn’t expect to, because I didn’t know what I was going to be reading. (Particularly since her first novel came with an “explicit” sticker; there’s no need for that sticker this time around.) It’s such a good story and the fact it’s set in the 80s/early 90s, the fact Cooper has used her music knowledge for Stevie, it all has such an old-school feel that just makes it even better. Cooper could easily become the new Bagshawe, and anyone who loves Bagshawe (the early Bagshawe, anyway) will love how Cooper gives you three strong heroines and puts them in rubbish circumstances and they have to fight to make their way to the top. It’s brilliant and I’d definitely recommend it. From start to finished I was kept hooked and it takes a heck of a book to do that, because I am one fussy customer. Mahattan is definitely a book for your Christmas stocking.
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Reading Progress

12/08/2011 page 50
12.0% "Really good so far, fast-paced, interesting characters, fast read... Enjoying it!"
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