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The Agency Semolina Pritchard Ltd Sisela Lindblom, The Agency Semolina Pritchard Ltd (The Semolina Pritchard Agency)

Norstedts,  2011. ISBN: 9789113033990

Reviewed by Željka Černok in SBR 2012:1

The Agency of the title is a London theatre agency, run by a larger-than-life character called Semolina Pritchard. Determined to score a big client who could open doors to the US market, she travels in pusuit of the film director Sofie Shaparov, who is working in Paris on her screenplay. As it happens, Semolina’s two assistants end up going to Paris on the same day, but none of them knows about the other two. Lindsey, the agency secretary, is a smart, middle-class girl who on the spur of the moment decides to follow the actor Lloyd Khan, a client of the agency, to Paris. Myrah, the receptionist, wants to quit the agency and decides independently to go to Paris. The next five days we trail these three people around Paris, meet Myrah´s hedonistic new friends and Lloyd´s troubled brother, who Lindsey falls for despite her boyfriend back in London. We also get to know more about Semolina´s business schemes.

Although all this sounds like typical chick-lit, Lindblom´s ambition was obviously to write a novel about the mentality of modern times, about people who see themselves as special and are constantly preoccupied with how other people perceive them. The theatre world is supposed to function as a mirror of the shallowness of society, where egomaniacs have meaningless conversations and care only about themselves, even when they pretend to be deeply concerned about global issues. The novel is full of references to pop culture and even the main characters are thinly disguised famous personalities, be it fictional (Semolina seems to be a mix between the boss from The Devil Wears Prada and Samantha’s character from Sex and the City) or real (Sofie Shaparov is obviously Sofia Coppola). All their banal conversations are meant to serve as social criticism, but I wish Lindblom had pushed it further; the message is there, but it lacks sharpness.

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