Tru Luup: Vintage Fashion Girl, Mystery Slayer

Tru Luup

Tru Luup: Vintage Fashion Girl, Mystery Slayer was first published in 2014 and is the debut novel of Ellie Lawrence. It is a contemporary fiction which follows a teenager with an eye for fashion as she races to uncover the origin of an elegant broach.

Gertrude Oribella “Tru” Luup has been left devastated by the passing of her grandmother. In life, her Gram loved collecting antiques and Tru liked nothing more than to spend time with her, trying on clothes and listening to her tall stories. However, Tru’s mother does not share her fond memories. A combination of a rough childhood and difficult divorce has hardened her heart to any kind of sentimentality. While Tru wants to keep all of her Gram’s beautiful things, her mother has decided to sell them at auction.

While clearing her Gram’s home, Tru discovers a Japanese jewellery box and her mother allows her to take it home. When cleaning it, Tru finds a secret compartment inside it which contains a single broach. Identifying it as a mourning pin, she decides to keep its existence a secret from her mother as she knows that she will just want to sell it. After also uncovering a photograph which indicates that her family is descended from French nobility, Tru begins to research the broach in the hope of uncovering the truth.

However, the more that she researches, the more strained her relationship becomes with her family. Her mother, in particular, grows frustrated by her fantasies as she just wants her daughter to spend all of her free time doing school work and looking for a better part-time job. Tru knows that if she continues her search things will only get worse for her at home but she can’t stop. The origin of the broach is her Gram’s last story and she wants nothing more than to complete it.

While this novel is not the kind of thing that I would usually choose to read for pleasure, I was pleasantly surprised by it. Lawrence has a great talent for creating well rounded characters and so everyone – even minor characters such as Tru’s father and her friends at school – felt like real people. The relationship between Tru and her mother was brilliantly captured and I felt fully able to appreciate the standpoint of each character.

Many authors have difficulty in presenting alternate points of view without designating characters as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. In Tru Luup, I felt that both stand points were perfectly understandable. I could relate with Tru – the bereaved teenager who just wanted to keep her Gram’s memory alive – but I could also understand why her mother acted in such away. Tru’s mother was overly controlling and some of her actions (particularly later in the novel) were highly questionable but it was motivated by financial issues and the need to provide for her family. As she knows that she needs to fund two children through college, she has to get the money from somewhere and, to her, the items that she sells are just things with no emotional value attached.

Tru is very likable and I was certainly rooting for her to succeed by the end of the story. Lawrence presents her as a typical teen, beginning to rebel against authority and sometimes behaving selfishly. Although the novel offers no definitive stance as to whether her behaviour is right or wrong (some characters support Tru in her mission, while others try to get her to see things from her mother’s point of view), her passion makes her incredibly memorable. Although her mother despairs at her daughter’s love of vintage clothes and wants her to settle into a more lucrative career, the reader can see just how much love and knowledge Tru has for her chosen career and therefore it is impossible not to want her to succeed in her quest to follow her dreams.

The only real disappointment that I had with the characterisation was that there is no closure. Following the climax, the novel just ends. We don’t learn what happens when Tru returns home to her mother. I wanted some kind of Billy Elliot style catharsis, where her mother saw the research she had done and realised that her daughter had a gift, but instead I was left hanging. For me, this was very bittersweet. Being an eternal pessimist, I could not imagine that her mother would welcome her home with open arms. In fact, based on her previous behaviour, I could not imagine them ever seeing eye to eye. As this is a stand-alone novel, the weakness of the ending undermined the story’s overall message and left me feeling very unsatisfied.

With regards to the plot, I have very little to criticise. Ending notwithstanding, it was a very tidy story – fast paced and compelling enough to make me keep turning the pages. I was genuinely curious to discover whose hair was inside the pin and whether or not Tru was actually a distant relative of Josephine Bonaparte. However, I do feel as though I was unable to fully appreciate this story as I don’t have any background in vintage fashion. The novel contained many lengthy descriptions of beautiful sounding clothing but they meant nothing to me at all. I don’t know what Dupioni cushions or bed jackets are and the novel was clearly written for someone who did as no explanation of any of the fashion terms were given. While a young fan of vintage fashions would probably love the detailed descriptions of gorgeous clothing, it really did not mean an awful lot to me.

The only other real issue I had with the text was with the errors. While I expect to find some textual errors in an indie novel (I appreciate that they do not always have access to editors), there were a lot in Tru Luup. Paragraphs broke in the middle of sentences, indentation occurred at random and simple words were misspelt. The frequency of these errors was distracting and I felt that they could have easily been removed with a careful proof-read of the text prior to publication.

I don’t have an awful lot more to say about this one. Although the novel was let down by some bad grammar and a weak ending, it was on the whole a very enjoyable read. The story was short and interesting and the characterisation – particularly of Tru and her mother – was utterly fantastic. A young adult reader with an interest in fashion would certainly get a kick out of this story.

Tru Luup: Vintage Fashion Girl, Mystery Slayer can be purchased as an eBook on Smashwords

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. CallieSou
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 07:41:06

    Im grateful for the blog.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.
    little girls dresses

    Reply

  2. Ellie Lawrence
    Aug 08, 2014 @ 22:06:59

    Just wanted to say that this is the most thorough and well-considered review I’ve read about my book. It is the first of a series so the ending was left a little bit wanting and this was a deliberate choice. Finally, I’m afraid that when I sent you the copy, it hadn’t been professionally edited. It is now professionally edited and formatted too so the reading of it should be much smoother and vastly improved. Thank you again for this review; it was really was a gift.

    Reply

    • Kim
      Aug 08, 2014 @ 22:33:31

      Hi Ellie. Many thanks for your comment – I’m glad that the review was to your liking.

      It’s a shame that you didn’t send me the edited copy but I’m glad to know that there is a version out there that ironed out the grammatical errors – that really was my biggest issue with the novel (and it really is not a huge one at the end of the day).

      I apologise for my assumption that this was a solo novel – I’m really glad that it wasn’t as it means that I can look forward to reading the next instalment in the future!

      Reply

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