Spirit Willing, Flesh Weak, by Julie Cohen

>> Sunday, October 25, 2009

TITLE: Spirit Willing, Flesh Weak
AUTHOR: Julie Cohen

PAGES: 276
PUBLISHER: Little Black Dress

SETTING: Contemporary England
TYPE: Somewhere between chick lit and romance, probably leaning more towards chick lit.

REASON FOR READING: I really like this author.

A hilarious, clever romantic comedy which shows that the course of true love is never predictable

Rosie Fox is a liar. A really, really good liar. But when you’re a stage psychic who’s not actually psychic, you have to be. Then one night, while pretending to commune with the dead relatives and pets of her audience, Rosie makes a startling prediction – which tragically comes true. Suddenly she’s trapped in a media frenzy, spearheaded by the impossibly handsome journalist Harry Blake, a man intent on kick-starting his stalled career by exposing Rosie as a fraud. Yet when his interest in her goes from professional to personal, she thinks she can trust him not to blow her cover – but maybe she’s making a huge mistake.
Rosie Fox is a fake spychic. Her live audience shows are based on a combination of covert pre-show information-gathering, shrewd guesses and Rosie being excellent at reading people. One night, however, Rosie makes a surprisingly (even to herself) accurate prediction during a show. It's something completely unguessable and Rosie's actions after her very public prediction provide proof that she couldn't have manufactured those events. Cue massive media attention, especially because the book is set in England, and the tabloids here are truly something else.

The hero, Harry Blake, is a journalist, a disgraced serious one whose "thing" now is to debunk paranormal fakes. Rosie's usual act is one of many and not really worth his time, but her latest prediction has him stumped. Exposing her now would be very, very good to his career, so he decides to practically glue himself to her side during her English tour. But when professional pursuit turns personal, Harry will have to make some big decisions.

I usually love Cohen's style, but this one was just ok. Fun, but ultimately not completely satisfying.

What I enjoyed the most was Rosie's career and the way she did what she did. I really got a kick out of the bits where she was doing her shows. I went through a stage where my guilty pleasure was watching that very thing, a show called Crossing Over With John Edward, so it was fun to see what went on in Rosie's mind and how she worked out what to say when she was doing basically the same thing John Edward did in his show. And of course, she was a fake psychic with a conscience, so you couldn't help but sympathise with her even when she was lying through her teeth!

The romance wasn't too well developed, unfortunately, with a hero who remained too much of a cypher throughout the book. It's narrated in first-person, which didn't help give me a very good sense of who exactly Harry was. There are intriguing glimpses (most notably, in the first love scene, surprisingly), but on the whole he remains quite shadowy. He also does something pretty bad to Rosie, and I didn't really get her reaction to it.

I was also disappointed by how there's no real resolution to the psychic bit. I mean, that famous prediction was proof that Rosie really does have some psychic powers, but then this element of the plot goes nowhere.



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