Praise for The Fortunes of Ruby White
..Cosmic comedy, frivolous and fun...
...Thoroughly entertaining and very funny...
...A good light read with a dark undertone...
...Witty, sad, and hard to put down...
The Fortunes of Ruby White is unique, original and funny – bitingly so. After recently ploughing through the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, I found Adelaide author Lia Weston’s debut novel offered much-needed light relief.
Ruby White finds herself directionless and desperate for work after leaving her job due to a dodgy boss. She becomes involved with the Jaasmyn Empire, a new-age, metaphysical spiritual healing company with a bewildering array of products, services and skills.
Despite embarking reluctantly on a journey of apparent enlightenment, Ruby realises she possesses skills previously untapped. As her character gets into the swing of things at the Empire, Weston gives full reign to her disarmingly sharp humour. The reader’s cynicism and disbelief give way to belly laughs as the farcical climax is reached.
Weston is a talented writer. Her style is light and bouncy, her humour is sarcastic, but cool and witty. There are many amusing lines in the dialogue and references to movies, TV shows and modern culture. (A sound understanding of female grooming will assist.)
The reality of the lives of Ruby and her friends and family is contrasted with the over-the-top characters at the Jaasmyn Empire. I could not get enough of Jaasmyn, the omnipresent leader and beneficiary of the Empire. If this book ever achieves a movie deal, she could command her own spin-off.
The moments of romance and relationships are highlights—not just Ruby’s love interest, but also the connections between friends and family, and in particular between her friend Anise and Anise’s father. In these moments, Weston’s writing beautifully conveys understated but true emotion.
A great read, a great laugh, and a commendably quirky debut by Weston.
Jim Mack, Independent Weekly (17/9/2010)
Ruby White is jobless, broke and has no direction in life.
With not much else to do she finds herself at a seminar run by the Jaasmyn Empire, a new age company. It’s a business she’s never heard of and to Ruby’s surprise she is offered a job.
What follows is a hilarious journey with Ruby gaining a reputation within the Empire for possessing extraordinary abilities, even though her talents are no more than guesswork.
I loved Ruby’s initial sarcasm about the Empire and its ethics, but something changes in her and she ends up ignoring her misgivings and enjoys fitting in somewhere for the first time in her life.
As her training progresses, her parents become concerned. It seems the wacky girl who used to eat chocolate for breakfast and pretzels for dinner won’t touch anything that isn’t organic.
The ideas the writer has come up with that the Empire run and offer to their clientele are very funny. Areas in which Ruby gets sent to train in include the candle making and tea departments (all money-making merchandise for the Empire).
Things like the Empire’s specialised sleeping aides (otherwise known as pillows) and private classes with a psychic therapist (a parrot) are really amusing.
As Ruby disappears into the Empire’s world of mind, body and spirit, her friends and family try numerous ways to lure her back, but their efforts only push her more into the arms of the Jaasmyn Empire and its mysterious leader. Fortunately Ruby’s friend at the Empire, DeDe, is onto Jaasmyn...
This book is a debut novel for Lia Weston and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the bookshelves for her second book. This one had me laughing out loud in so many places. I would recommend it to anyone who wants an easy-going, great-humoured read.
Lyndall Ford, Y Weekly (15/7/2010)
The New Age industry has been exploiting people ever since someone said, “Let me read your palm”. After a fling with paganism, South Australian author Lia Weston has launched a welcome campaign, in the guise of a novel, against much of the hocus-pocus that abounds under the name of spiritualism and healing.
Weston’s protagonist, Ruby White, is vulnerable after losing her boyfriend and quitting her job. She is attracted to an organisation called the Jaasmyn Empire, which offers “spiritual lifestyle information,” its creed: “Only when we are truly calm can calm be realised.” The managers don’t advertise for staff, they just sense when somebody is right for them.
After attending a retreat run by the Jaasmyn Empire, Ruby becomes even more enamoured of her workplace and loses her identify and integrity. Soon Ruby is selling candles, aromatherapy oils, astral therapy, enlightenment pillows and a range of herbal teas that can cure just about everything, including cancer. But all is not lost. Ruby’s suitor as well as her girlfriend and loving parents are waiting in the wings.
The Fortunes of Ruby White could be dismissed as just another slick, chick lit book, complete with best friends, boys and broken hearts, but it is redeemed by the book’s theme, a genuine attempt to shine the spotlight on the New Age charlatans out there.
Dianne Dempsey, Age (17/7/2010)
Sydney Morning Herald
This novel is a light-hearted treatment of a serious topic, namely fraudulent cults. The heroine, Ruby, a young, hard-drinking redhead with a kind heart and a salty turn of phrase, undergoes an alarming personality change after she is recruited by a mysterious “wellness” company called the Jaasmyn Empire and finds herself rocketing through the hierarchical ranks, promoted from candle-making to more mysterious duties by the gorgeous and imperious Jaasmyn. (No explanation is given for the double “a” in Jaasmyn’s name but it may be something to do with numerology.)
There’s a lively cast of characters, including Ruby’s worried parents and a military-minded German shepherd called Brian. Weston’s mind is open to “alternative” practices, which makes her satire of its fraudulent aspects all the more pointed. There are some laugh-out-loud moments, such as the seminar entitled Say No To Negativity.
Chick lit meets satire in this warm and wonderful debut from Adelaide writer Lia Weston.
Lightweight and easy to read, the novel is also hilarious and surprisingly thought provoking in its lancing of the New Age movement.
At its heart is the sweet, sassy and all-too-human heroine of the title who finds herself suddenly unemployed when she refuses to do her boss’s dirty work.
After disrupting a yoga and relaxation session, she learns she is hyper-audio-aware and attends an HAA class at the Jaasmyn Empire to get her PHT (personal health triangle) aligned. Soon she is offered a job with the mysterious company, which seems to specialise in everything from Candle Production to Regressional Absorption.
A charming man called Mr Petrie mentors her through the early induction stages and she is elevated to Level Three in the company’s hierarchy.
Ruby tries her hand in the customer merchandise section, which includes packing teas with names like Aniseed Atonement, Calming Chamomile, and Serenity Now.
Stumbling into the aromatherapy clinic to deliver some vials, she displays enhanced olfactory skills and seems to have many gifts.
She even does a stint as Inter-Species Communications Facilitator which involves walking five precious canine “jewels”. And she has an early and rare close encounter with the enterprise’s esteemed founder, Jaasmyn, “the Most Beautiful Woman in the World”.
As she becomes indoctrinated, she adapts to a range of restricted diets and embraces alternative treatments with zeal. When her parents Charles and Pam, would-be lover Damien and best friend Anise express concerns about the Empire’s nebulous, doings, she withdraws from them and her beloved cat, Dr Sweetpants.
Ruby slips ever deeper into the metaphysical mindset until things come to a head during the Celestial Enlightenment Retreat.
In her online biographical note, author Lia Weston claims she used to practise pagan rites until she had “one high magic ritual too many” and decided to turn to fiction.
“Surviving an adolescence spent at an all-girls’ religious school instilled a curiosity about the numerous parallels between cults and organised religion, as well as a life-long hatred of berets,” Ms Weston says.
Clearly she knows enough about the subject to make fun of it in an informed fashion and The Fortunes of Ruby White is cosmic comedy at its frivolous best.
Mary Lynn Mather, Kalgoorlie Miner (17/9/2010)