UPGRADING by Simon Brooke


Email this review


Handsome and dissolute young Brit seeks Sugar Mommy.

Oddly enough, selling ad space at a London daily may not be the life of glamour one would expect, but Andrew Collins is doing just that—and feeling about to go mad. He’s got a lazy, perennially gassy roommate who’s like a growth on the sofa and a bitter, power-mad boss itching for ways to make Andrew’s life hell. Deciding to change his station—or at least his bank account—Andrew goes to work for Jonathan, who runs an escort service for women seeking male companionship. Soon, he’s a permanent fixture on the arm of an extremely wealthy and quite bored older American woman by the name of Marion. At first, Jonathan merely accompanies her to dinner at restaurants that would have taken a year of his own salary, but eventually he’s sleeping with her, then deciding whether to accept her offer to leave his rundown, smelly flat and move in with her. As anybody who’s flipped through a Jackie Collins novel can tell you, money (especially someone else’s) doesn’t buy happiness, just lots of stuff you feel embarrassed wearing. As for Andrew, he’s not the smartest of lads and is taken by surprise when Marion turns out to be (gasp!) mean, vindictive, and manipulative. This fact seems also to have taken first-novelist Brooke by surprise, since he turns what should have been a breezy, 200-page quick read into a padded-feeling omnibus of snooze wherein Andrew flits from one faux moral crisis to another. It’s all capped off with the requisite Sunset Boulevard–style dilemma in which Andrew must choose between the evil old hag (financial security) and the young, funny girl of his dreams (morally righteous poverty). Somewhere in the mix is a tale of lost youth scrambling to keep an individual identity in a capitalist nightmare—but Brooke’s done his best to bury it.

Overlong, windy nonsense.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7434-7762-6
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Downtown Press/Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2004