I realize my last book review was only two posts ago. Normally, I don’t write reviews until weeks, or even months, after I actually read the book. That being said, I finished this book in one day, so I figured my review should be posted just as promptly.
I don’t even remember where I heard about Ashley Prentice Norton’s The Chocolate Money. But when I went on Amazon to see what kind of feedback it had gotten, one quote stuck out to me in particular: “The Chocolate Money is Mommie Dearest, Prep, and Fifty Shades of Gray all rolled into one compulsively readable book.”
I was dying to find out how all of those drastically different genres could possibly collide.
The novel focuses on Bettina Ballentyne and her mother Babs, the heiress to the fictional Ballentyne chocolate fortune. Babs is terrifyingly unfit to be a mother to Bettina, a quiet and pensive girl eager to impress her party animal mother.
Contrary to what the title suggests, the book is anything but lighthearted and glamorous. It’s a dark look at the devastating effects that obscene wealth can have on the parent-child relationship.
One scene that sticks out in my mind is when Babs dresses twelve-year-old Bettina in a bum-baring sailor outfit, stilettos, and tacky makeup to serve alcoholic drinks at her “hangover cruise” theme party. When Bettina gets drunk, falls, and gushes blood, Babs smacks her across the face and returns to her party.
Although the book is marketed as fiction, it’s worth noting that Norton, the author, is the great-great-grandaughter of John D. Rockefeller, the infamous oil magnate. Just like The Chocolate Money’s Bettina, Norton grew up in an ostentatious Chicago apartment and went on to attend a prestigious boarding school in New England. My internet research led me to discover that Norton’s mother was a “flamboyant socialite” not so far removed from the debauchery of the novel’s character.
The novel was extremely hard to swallow at parts. Call me deranged, but I consider it a sign of excellent writing if a fictional piece has the ability to leave my stomach in knots. There is certainly a comedic element to the story, albeit a dark one. It’s one of those that left me thinking, ‘this author has some demons.’
Most of all, it’s the kind of story that makes you realize how normal you truly are.
Clear your schedule and get in a comfy position – you won’t want to put this one down.