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Book Review: Kelly. The Bar Girl Who Would Be President.

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Kelly - The bar girl who would be president.

 

by Sam Worthington

 

---

 

Sam Worthington is the pen name of a long time Thai360 board member and now retired publisher. He is known to many of us in real life from the days when he used to attend the Friday night board meetings at Gulliver’s. “Sam†is witty and fun to be with, an English gentleman of the old school and a connoisseur of fine food and wines. I was well aware of his restaurant reviews, but to my surprise, I discovered he also has written quite a number of novels under his nom de plume.

 

About four months ago Worthington paid a visit to Bangkok from his voluntary exile in the Philippines. We met one evening at the QueenVictoria Pub (where else?) and he gave me an autographed copy of his latest book, with a request that I review it. Now book reviews are not something I eagerly do, and with classes to be taught, papers to be graded and editing to be done, it was easy to find reasons to postpone it. It is finally term break, so with no further excuses I bit the bullet and read Kelly – The bar girl who would be president.

 

To my delight, I found myself captivated by a very different sort of Southeast Asian novel. Instead of the usual bar-girl-meets-Farang romance goes wrong or a drug dealing Bangkok crime story, Kelly turns out to be the tale of a “working class†Asian woman who improbably is drawn into politics with the encouragement of her worldly English mentor (vaguely reminiscent of Sam himself). Kelly takes on a totally corrupt government and against all odds succeeds beyond her wildest dreams. Despite its bizarre premise, Worthington manages to make it seem completely believable.

 

As he explained to me, he had met an amazing bargirl in the Philippines – Muslim father, Catholic mother - who had risen considerably above her absolutely horrible childhood. That gave him an idea : “What if she could become president?†Thus he wrote this book.

 

Kelly – The bar girl who would be president is set in the fictional country of the Ramage Islands, described as a former British colony somewhere near the Philippines. Creating a fictitious country is no easy task, but Worthington does it so well that after a few chapters you are convinced it really exists. The story of Kelly begins in the familiar gogo bar setting, this one run by a somewhat disreputable English baronet known as Lord Toad (a delightfully naughty parody of another of Bangkok’s wonderful real life characters). But by the second chapter tragedy moves things beyond that and Kelly the bar girl steels herself to take on the city council in the name of justice and human decency. From then on you will be hooked by the story of Kelly, which sad to say has a less than fairy tale ending. One hates it when reality suddenly intrudes into our fantasy world.

 

I won’t spoil the fun by revealing any more of the plot. Suffice it to say the twists and turns are delightful, and I found myself laughing a few times at Sam’s unexpected humour. I very seldom read fiction, as I find most of it disappointing. However, Kelly – The bar girl who would be president was well worth the time I spent on it. It is published by Bangkok Books and is available both in paperback and as an e-book (elSBN 978-616-245-076-1). Contact www.bangkokbooks.com for further information.

 

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Kelly - The bar girl who would be president.

 

by Sam Worthington

 

---

 

Sam Worthington is the pen name of a long time Thai360 board member and now retired publisher. He is known to many of us in real life from the days when he used to attend the Friday night board meetings at Gulliver’s. “Sam†is witty and fun to be with, an English gentleman of the old school and a connoisseur of fine food and wines. I was well aware of his restaurant reviews, but to my surprise, I discovered he also has written quite a number of novels under his nom de plume.

 

About four months ago Worthington paid a visit to Bangkok from his voluntary exile in the Philippines. We met one evening at the QueenVictoria Pub (where else?) and he gave me an autographed copy of his latest book, with a request that I review it. Now book reviews are not something I eagerly do, and with classes to be taught, papers to be graded and editing to be done, it was easy to find reasons to postpone it. It is finally term break, so with no further excuses I bit the bullet and read Kelly – The bar girl who would be president.

 

To my delight, I found myself captivated by a very different sort of Southeast Asian novel. Instead of the usual bar-girl-meets-Farang romance goes wrong or a drug dealing Bangkok crime story, Kelly turns out to be the tale of a “working class†Asian woman who improbably is drawn into politics with the encouragement of her worldly English mentor (vaguely reminiscent of Sam himself). Kelly takes on a totally corrupt government and against all odds succeeds beyond her wildest dreams. Despite its bizarre premise, Worthington manages to make it seem completely believable.

 

As he explained to me, he had met an amazing bargirl in the Philippines – Muslim father, Catholic mother - who had risen considerably above her absolutely horrible childhood. That gave him an idea : “What if she could become president?†Thus he wrote this book.

 

Kelly – The bar girl who would be president is set in the fictional country of the Ramage Islands, described as a former British colony somewhere near the Philippines. Creating a fictitious country is no easy task, but Worthington does it so well that after a few chapters you are convinced it really exists. The story of Kelly begins in the familiar gogo bar setting, this one run by a somewhat disreputable English baronet known as Lord Toad (a delightfully naughty parody of another of Bangkok’s wonderful real life characters). But by the second chapter tragedy moves things beyond that and Kelly the bar girl steels herself to take on the city council in the name of justice and human decency. From then on you will be hooked by the story of Kelly, which sad to say has a less than fairy tale ending. One hates it when reality suddenly intrudes into our fantasy world.

 

I won’t spoil the fun by revealing any more of the plot. Suffice it to say the twists and turns are delightful, and I found myself laughing a few times at Sam’s unexpected humour. I very seldom read fiction, as I find most of it disappointing. However, Kelly – The bar girl who would be president was well worth the time I spent on it. It is published by Bangkok Books and is available both in paperback and as an e-book (elSBN 978-616-245-076-1). Contact www.bangkokbooks.com for further information.

 

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Kelly - The bar girl who would be president.

 

by Sam Worthington

 

---

 

Sam Worthington is the pen name of a long time Thai360 board member and now retired publisher. He is known to many of us in real life from the days when he used to attend the Friday night board meetings at Gulliver’s. “Sam†is witty and fun to be with, an English gentleman of the old school and a connoisseur of fine food and wines. I was well aware of his restaurant reviews, but to my surprise, I discovered he also has written quite a number of novels under his nom de plume.

 

About four months ago Worthington paid a visit to Bangkok from his voluntary exile in the Philippines. We met one evening at the QueenVictoria Pub (where else?) and he gave me an autographed copy of his latest book, with a request that I review it. Now book reviews are not something I eagerly do, and with classes to be taught, papers to be graded and editing to be done, it was easy to find reasons to postpone it. It is finally term break, so with no further excuses I bit the bullet and read Kelly – The bar girl who would be president.

 

To my delight, I found myself captivated by a very different sort of Southeast Asian novel. Instead of the usual bar-girl-meets-Farang romance goes wrong or a drug dealing Bangkok crime story, Kelly turns out to be the tale of a “working class†Asian woman who improbably is drawn into politics with the encouragement of her worldly English mentor (vaguely reminiscent of Sam himself). Kelly takes on a totally corrupt government and against all odds succeeds beyond her wildest dreams. Despite its bizarre premise, Worthington manages to make it seem completely believable.

 

As he explained to me, he had met an amazing bargirl in the Philippines – Muslim father, Catholic mother - who had risen considerably above her absolutely horrible childhood. That gave him an idea : “What if she could become president?†Thus he wrote this book.

 

Kelly – The bar girl who would be president is set in the fictional country of the Ramage Islands, described as a former British colony somewhere near the Philippines. Creating a fictitious country is no easy task, but Worthington does it so well that after a few chapters you are convinced it really exists. The story of Kelly begins in the familiar gogo bar setting, this one run by a somewhat disreputable English baronet known as Lord Toad (a delightfully naughty parody of another of Bangkok’s wonderful real life characters). But by the second chapter tragedy moves things beyond that and Kelly the bar girl steels herself to take on the city council in the name of justice and human decency. From then on you will be hooked by the story of Kelly, which sad to say has a less than fairy tale ending. One hates it when reality suddenly intrudes into our fantasy world.

 

I won’t spoil the fun by revealing any more of the plot. Suffice it to say the twists and turns are delightful, and I found myself laughing a few times at Sam’s unexpected humour. I very seldom read fiction, as I find most of it disappointing. However, Kelly – The bar girl who would be president was well worth the time I spent on it. It is published by Bangkok Books and is available both in paperback and as an e-book (elSBN 978-616-245-076-1). Contact www.bangkokbooks.com for further information.

 

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Torneyboy, you have gone from posting a hundred times a day to quoting two long posts consecutively without a single comment - is there something you wish to discuss with Flasher or the rest of us ??

 

Flash - thanks for the review. I admit that it sounds intriguing, and its good to see someone willing to take a different tack on the usual predictable 'evil bargirl' tales.

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