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Worlds within Words

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Grotesquely fascinating

The Chocolate Money - Ashley Prentice Norton

The title first attracted me to this book as anything with chocolate attracts my eye and secondly, the cover picture is so vibrant and eye-catching that I was excited to discover what was inside and wow I was completely unprepared for what I found!


The Chocolate Money follows the adventures of Bettina Ballentyne and her mum Babs, beginning in 1978, Chicago when Bettina is 11.  Bettina calls her mum Babs which is indicative of the relationship between mother and daughter as Babs seems to regard her daughter as part-confidante for her own love affairs and part-inconvenience.  Babs and Bettina are heiresses to a massive fortune hence the title’s reference to chocolate money which was the source of the inheritance.


Bettina lives a very unconventional life with her mother who throws elaborate parties that are looked down upon by society but to which everyone who matters wants to attend.  Babs’ idea of sex education for her daughter is to describe how to give a satisfactory blow job.  


Once Bettina is fifteen she attends an elite private school where she hopes to make a new start and try to reach out and make friends with girls her own age who don’t know about her prospective fortune and her impulsive, hedonistic mother.  However it seems that Bettina is unable to escape the damage inflicted upon her by her mother’s behaviour and here the reader is left trying to scream out to Bettina to stop her falling in the same trap as her mother.


I found this book grotesquely fascinating, there is a lot of swearing  and quite a few graphic sex scenes and it’s a very dark book full of twist and turns.  However, the author makes you care so much about Bettina that you are eager to see what happens to her.


I loved the ambiguous ending and felt it fitted in with the rest of the tone of the book as a whole and kept thinking of Bettina for a while after I had finished the book.  This is a very dark, fascinating and thought provoking book which I couldn’t put down. Absolutely fantastic!