3 out of 4 stars
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I don’t know too much about real estate. I have always assumed that the agents acquire houses to sell, promote said houses, and get people to buy them. Author and real estate agent, Sugar, writes an intriguing story with suspense and drama surrounding the elite and privileged residents of Palm Beach, Florida. Surreal Estate follows Terri, a meek realtor who manages to land a prestigious mansion owned by Lola May. While beginning to get the mansion into a marketable condition, Terri meets local busybody and neighbour to the May Estate, Vanessa Vaughn. The two women find themselves in hot water after closing up the servitude between the two properties, which leads them to question the severity of their punishment; which, in turn, leads to more questions. Slowly, they unveil secrets that could change the social structure of Palm Beach entirely.
The conversational tone and light-hearted nature of this book made it great fun to read. The author has an amusing way of describing some of the despicable people in her story. An example of this would be the very first line of the book, describing one of her clients:
This type of humour is found throughout the book, and it made me relate to the characters even more.Terri tried not to stare at Ursula Lurie’s lips, but they were visible from every angle in the slow, mirrored elevator. They were huge. And they weren’t there four days ago. Now they were in some kind of competition with Ursula’s boobs. Anywhere else in the country someone would have already stabbed Ursula with an EpiPen.
I loved the characters. Terri had a very definite development arc. The author built her up only to break her down again. Her constant fight with herself was evident and gave the story layers which I didn’t expect. My favourite character was Ms. Vaughn. In fact, I think she may be one of my favourite characters in a book, ever. She was so easy to imagine, and her personality and brash nature made the story all the more enjoyable. Even the smaller characters were elaborately built to form a wonderful base of people.
The story lagged a bit in the middle. While Terri was trying to get the property into a good enough state to sell, there were a few portions that I felt were drawn out too much. As a realtor herself, Sugar explains the intricacies of what was being done to the house in great detail. Because I don’t have a budding interest in real estate, and because I struggled to picture exactly what the place looked like, I found myself slowing down with my reading through these parts.
Even with the lag, Surreal Estate follows a steady course and builds up to a fantastic close. Unfortunately, however, the book has its fair share of errors. Although they didn’t take away from my reading pleasure, they were, at times, a little hard to ignore. Because of this, I am unable to give this book more than 3 out of 4 stars. With some tightening up of the storyline, and with a good proofread, this book is deserving of a perfect score. I would recommend it to anyone in the real estate industry, as well as to anyone that enjoys really well-designed characters. The characters drive this story – and what a fun ride it was!
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