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Kiss Heaven Goodbye
by Tasmina Perry

Release Date: 9th Jun 2011
Publisher: Headline
ISBN: 978 0 7553 5842 7
RRP: £6.99

Average Customer Rating: 
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Pure fantasy where you live amongst the rich and famous…

Kiss Heaven Goodbye is about a privilege, wealth and influence. More than that, it is the story of a group of people brought together through family and elite schooling, but bound together through a terrible secret.

The Ashford’s are an extremely wealthy family led by Robert Ashford, the self-made millionaire who dragged himself upwards and upgraded his social status by marrying well. Robert isn’t exactly Richard Branson; he’s unfaithful and a detached father figure as well as ruthless business man. Miles is his only son; a self-loathing, closet gay who epitomises what it means to be Machiavellian. His sole ambition is to outdo his father and thereby gain his approval; but only after stumbling from one disaster to another. Grace is the older sister; yet younger somehow and much more naïve than Miles, she carries a torch for Mile’s best friend, Alex Doyle with her for decades.

Alex Doyle is the bit of rough; one with aspirations borne out of rubbing shoulders with the echelons of society at Danehurst – especially Miles Ashford. He repeatedly misses his cue with Grace Ashford despite their mutual attraction. Then there is Sash Sinclair, the one-time girlfriend to Miles Ashford. She is a ruthless, gold-digger-turned-entrepreneur after being discarded by Miles on that fateful night on Angel Cay.

Bradley: aka ‘the boat boy’ is the pivot on which each of the characters’ lives spins. It’s 1990. All our characters are on Angel Cay, a private island owned by Ashford’s. Their final night is meant to be one of celebration, but larger forces are at work, the mood goes sour and the plot is whipped into a frenzy. Our boat boy stumbles across Miles making an impromptu pass at Alex; it’s unfortunate timing as Miles is vulnerable, thwarted, rejected and retaliates with violence by stubbing out a cigarette on boat boy’s face who promptly leaves. In a vicious circle of poor timing, our boat boy immediately comes across Sasha looking for Miles; in mutual spite, they tumble into bed together. After their passion has abated however, Sasha runs from his room in distress. Then, like a scene out of an Agatha Christie novel, boat boy is found bloodied and unconscious, presumably dead by the foursome. Whilst Miles initially convinces them all to leave ‘the body’ there for a member of staff to find; Alex and Grace are subsequently overcome with guilt and get Robert Ashford involved, only to find that the body has mysteriously disappeared. This is the cloud hanging over all of their lives. It has been storing up a storm for two decades and now, in 2010, the cloud is about to break.

Kiss Heaven Goodbye spans the disparate relationships, divorce, financial struggles, corporate success, death, birth, betrayal and loyalty that Perry’s cast endure. It would appear that the millionaires’ playground proves to be no less unpredictable that the everyman’s, which oddly makes you feel smug. The sexual encounters are disappointing in their cookie-cutter manufacture; perpetuating the myth that not only are all women programmed to become aroused by the same machinations, but also that men only have to pursue a single set of instructions to achieve great foreplay and coital pleasure. Thankfully, Perry isn’t adverse to a bit of fun. Take the demise of Connie Ashford: long-suffering wife of Robert, who discovers Grace’s partner, Julian (rich artist) with Olivia (Grace’s 18-yr-old daughter) – and subsequently falls down the stairs in dramatic fashion before she can spill the beans; it should be tragic, but feels more like slapstick comedy. The piece de résistance however, is the fabulous twist at the end. Kiss Heaven Goodbye may not be highbrow or intellectual reading, but it is pure escapism.

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