by Camille Perri
Publishing Date: 21st April 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 288
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)
Behind every successful man is a busy assistant and Tina’s boss is very successful.
But Tina is tired of being overworked and underpaid.
She’s bored of her damp flat and her mounting debts.
Then a blip in the expenses system sends Tina a cheque.
She’s a good person.
But she’s desperate.
This isn’t stealing.
It’s an administrative error.
What would you do if you thought you’d get away with it?
OK, guys, „The Assistants” by Camille Perri was one of my most anticipated releases this year. Honestly. I was intrigued by the synopsis, and it sounded so thought – provoking and I really couldn’t wait for my copy to finally, eventually arrive. There was such a buzz going about this book on Twitter, and I didn’t wait long to dig deep into it when I’ve received it. I started reading it so full of expectations and so incredibly curious how the author has pulled off this rather controversial and not so easy to handle topic.
Tina Fontana is a PA to media mogul Robert Barlow, and she’s loyal to him – she would never do anything to harm him or that could end with losing his trust. That is, until one day, because of a mix – up in refunding expenses, she ends with a double back payment for almost 20 thousand dollars. It is the amount of her student loan that she has such problems to pay back, what with her being on an assistant’s salary. So – what now? To do or not to do? OK, already from the synopsis we know that it’s „to do”, but the question now is, what next? Is anybody going to discover this fraud? And can Tina live like this? Would her conscience allow her?
You know, Tina – with or without taking this chance – was a really nice person and I’m not going to get mixed up here in some moral considerations about her. She was sharp and independent and had a great sense of humour. Slightly naive, very good natured and hard – working and I really kept my fingers crossed for her, and couldn’t believe when, in style of Dumb and Dumber, she started to tangle up into almost a pyramid – scheme. She was really not bad, she was not a thief and I think it is normal to dream about a better life. But, it’s the way how you achieve this dream life, that’s for sure. But liking her didn’t stop me from seeing that she also felt a little flat – she was super passive and let the things around her just happen, and went with everything she was told, even though she didn’t agree. And what I didn’t enjoy so much was the fact that the characters were so stereotypical: the über – rich mogul, the poor assistants, only men with better jobs.
I took the whole money thing in a relatively relaxed way, to be honest. We are supposed to be on Tina’s side only because her boss is a real mogul who spends thousands of dollars on his wife jewellery when he loses his bet, an amount that would pay Tina’s debt, but the author tries to complicate the things for us a little showing Robert as a normal man who is doing his own BBQ and making us like him more. Sure, I was a little conflicted about this whole situation because a) I could understand Tina and the unfairness of the system, b) no matter how much money you have and who you are people shouldn’t steal from you, but altogether, it didn’t make me feel shocked or something like that. And, to be honest, the thing with paying, it was maybe funny, thrilling and to digest for the first or second time, but when it started to get out of control and new people came, interested in this kind of cheating, I could only roll my eyes and sigh in disbelief. How much Robin Hood – like can you be with money that is not yours and risk so much?
What I really liked in this book is Camilla Perri’s writing style – it’s sharp, no – nonsense and light. Sure, next to this lightness and humour that author also touches upon issues of injustice, inequity and indirectly asks how come people who went through colleges and universities end with thousands of dollars loans while people who can’t book a plane ticket without their help can sleep on their money. It’s a fast – paced story but the message is not always so optimistic: you steal. You get away with it. You steal more. I really wanted to leave this moral aspect of this story aside, however, after leaving it aside, without judging the characters, the book seems a little bland, a little confusing, a little chaotic. Yes, it delivers some romance (that didn’t work for me, at all, it was too unbelievable), it delivers some funny moments, but there is not enough depth for my liking. And let’s be honest – the whole idea of the plot, the fraud, it does seem a little unbelievable, right? I’m not sure how corporations work but I am sure that they check every cent twice so discovering the fraud would be only a matter of time. Then the quick idea with the website – I haven’t heard of such thing, to be honest, I can’t even imagine how such thing should work and for how long, and I had a feeling that Emily had other plans for this money, no? It’s really complicated, because as much as I liked the characters, or rather grow to like them, when you steal than you should be punished, right? And not go away with it… Stealing is stealing. Oh damn, I’m really torn about it book I wanted to love it but I liked it, I’ve spotted there a lot of potential, the author found the courage for a rather very controversial plot and I really appreciate that, as I like the books to be not so straightforward. However, I missed this „something” that makes novel exceptional, and like I’ve already mentioned it before, the characters went away without being punished, and I wasn’t expecting them being put into the prison for twenty years or something, but it looked like they – maybe with the exception of Tina – didn’t learn any lesson and would do it again. But guys, I’d say, read the book for yourself and you’ll see for yourself what it is about.