Confession: I can’t stand it when people say “I’ll lend you a book! You’ll love it!” The thing is I don’t like books thrust upon me. I hate feeling like I ‘have’ to read something and I really hate the pressure of having to read it immediately so that it can then be returned quickly. And what if I hate it? I actually only borrow books (or listen to recommendations) from a very, very small group of people. Very small. Boy… I sound like such a brat.
So, can you see where this is going? Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen. It was ‘thrust upon me’ by a newish friend after I mentioned that I was partial to all things South Beach, Miami. Now I have to say that I would never have picked this book myself. From the blurb, it seemed to have a light crime element that is simply not my cup of tea. But this is why sometimes (just sometimes), it’s good to read out of your genre-comfort-zone. I enjoyed Nature Girl. It was light and fun but not in a chick-lit or lad-lit kind of way – both of which can stray into morose, navel-gazing territory.
Given that I know nothing about Hiaasen and have never read any funny crime novels, my thoughts on Nature Girl will no doubt show no insight whatsoever – if you’re a Hiaasen fan, feel free to stop reading this post.
Firstly, Nature Girl is funny. In a sarcastic, dry way that I don’t usually associate with American writers (and yet I feel I’ve said that before so perhaps American humour is moving more toward the sarcastic end of the spectrum, where Australians are so at home).
“She was obviously winging it, so Fry dropped the subject. He also decided not to inquire why she’d stopped shaving her right leg – he couldn’t imagine any response that would put his mind at ease.”
“Years later Sammy Tigertail often thought about his dad, a cheery and harmless soul who believed that the three essential ingredients of contentment were classic rock, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a hot tub.”
“Fry sat down on his backpack and contemplated the obvious futility of opening an eco-lodge in a trailer park.”
Secondly, the sub-plots and the numerous characters’ stories all wrapped up neatly at the end – reminded me of a Mozart opera where it all comes together in one final, fabulous scene.
Lastly, Florida. It’s a great place to set a book. It has an irresistible combination of glamour and shadiness. Hiaasen includes enough detail for the reader to get a good sense of the place, without it sounding like a travel brochure.
3/5 Not my usual territory but if I ever revisit the crime and humour combination, Hiaasen will be first on my list.
If it’s Florida, then it’s crab cakes.