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Upgrading
by Simon Brooke

Category: Fiction / General
384 pages; ISBN: 0743477626

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Review

Upgrading
Simon Brooke
Downtown, Aug 2004, $13.00, 384 pp.
ISBN: 0743477626

Working at media sales for the Guardian, Andrew Collins detests his tedious job, which fails to pay for the lifestyle that the handsome lad believes he deserves. Fearing he will turn into a “Wanker”, Andrew seeks money that equates to happiness. Andrew answers an Evening Standard ad for male escorts, hoping to land a "Sugar Mama".

Andrew escorts the wealthy, decadent and older Marion. She and her nasty friends turn him into her boy toy. He likes the expensive cars he now drives, the excess “green” he carries, the weekend flights across the Atlantic, and the other trinkets she buys him, However, he soon feels his esteem battered when he meets shop assistant plain Jane. She likes the potential she sees in him, but is disappointed in how weak he is by allowing the Rolex crowd to buy his soul. To his shock, Andrew cannot get Jane out of his head and realizes he must decide whether he wants love or money.

Andrew will remind readers of Alfie as he seems as shallow and morally void yet somehow empathetic and understandable. His struggle to select between debauched luxury and love leads the audience to hope he will properly choose, but not wait too long because Jane will not sit around moping. There is a vast contrast between Marion and her jet set minions who contain no redeeming qualities as opposed to the nurturing be all you can be Jane. This extreme also keeps the options simplistic as it boils down to selling your soul vs. loving another’s soul. This is a terrific character study that if Marion was a wee nicer could have been UPGRADED into quite a complex tale.

Harriet Klausner

 

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