A guest review by Wordsmith Lane reader Clare Griffin
Ruby Stanhope is a stylish English investment banker that has a healthy obsession with label shoes and Australian wine. Although a workaholic, Ruby is unceremoniously fired via an email, and while drowning her sorrows on Australian “peanut noise” books a ticket to Australia and lands in the middle of Australian history in the making.
While still hung-over and jet lagged at a fundraiser, Ruby scores a job as a financial policy advisor to the LOO (Leader Of the Opposition) and is dragged into the whirlwind that is Australian politics, rougher than usual thanks to Treasurer Gabrielle Brennan overthrowing the current Prime Minister, Hugh Patton. With the drama of a party member overthrowing the current PM, Brennan also becomes Australia’s first female Prime Minster. The battle is then on for the LOO, Max Masters, to win the election and become Prime Minster.
Ruby is then on route for the craziest 33 days of her life, as team Masters jets all over Australia, trying to win over the nation. Along the way Ruby tries to stay away from very attractive journalist Oscar Franklin, embarrassing the LOO, trying to keep up with terms and a government she knows nothing about, attempting to get through her ever constant lists and trying to do a job she feels utterly unqualified for.
Campaign Ruby is the debut novel from former PM Kevin Rudd’s eldest child, Jessica Rudd. Jessica has had to face more critique then most debut novelists, thanks to her somewhat psychic storyline. Jessica finished her novel six months before her father was overthrown by his party and Julia Gillard took over.
Jessica Rudd has an easy writing style and the story flows well and quickly. Thanks to Ruby’s ignorance to Australian politics, the reader also discovers how Australian politics works, so even if you’re not politically minded you can still keep up. Although the book is about politics, the story is by no means boring as Ruby has a knack for finding herself in awkward, yet humorous situations.
The farewell speech of Hugh Patton is omniscient of Kevin Rudd’s speech. Whether she realises it or not, you can hear Kevin Rudd in the way Patton speaks; the pauses every few words, similar characteristics, the family standing behind, silently giving their father and husband strength-much like what Jessica would do for her Dad, six months later.
Jessica’s writing is witty and doesn’t bombard you with Aussie colloquialisms, instead inserting them only when necessary. Considering we have just gone through an election campaign much like Ruby’s, the book gives terrific insight into how a campaign is put together and what goes on behind closed doors. Jessica Rudd worked on her father’s campaign in 2007 and has obviously drawn on her experiences and has realised how funny politics can be.
Campaign Ruby (Text ($32.95) is intelligent chick-lit that will make you envious of Ruby’s shoe collection while learning about Australian politics at the same time.
Clare Griffin is a freelance writer and editor based in Victoria who writes regularly at her blog Girl On A Soapbox. Clare dreams of writing the great Australian novel which will then be made into an Oscar winning film where she will win Best Screenplay. Clare is also very jealous of Ruby Stanhope’s shoe collection.