Shining in the Sun respects all the rules of the cinderfellas stories, but it manages to be original thanks to its characters, that don’t play along the rules. Prince Charming is Ptolemy Alexander St. John-Goodchilde, Alec for short, who is a very wealthy, very shy, mommy boy City of London businessman; a perfect fiancee on the side, an ordinary life for 11 out of 12 months per year, his only rebellion is to take the month of August all for himself, and sailing without purpose on his yacth, the Lady Jane. This year though there was an impediment, and he is waiting for his car to be repaired in some Cornwall tourist trap seaside village when he meets cindefella Darren.
Darren is the neglected son, the one his father left with his grandmother when their mother fled, the one who is now taking care of the ailing woman in the only way he knows, selling his body to rich men. But at least he fouls everyone, and himself, telling that he is in love with those men, that if they hurt him it’s only because it’s their way to express that love, that he is capable of taking care of himself and his grandmother, at least since the day he awakes in an hospital. Like Alec, also Darren has the month of August out, out of his obligations, out of his fears, and if in that month he really sells himself for money, well, then he can always say that it’s only for a month, that he is not really a whore.
Alec doesn’t cruise Darren for sex, and when he sees him, the educated man that is in him makes all sort of classical comparison to prove to himself that is interest for Darren is something ethereal and pure, but he is also quick to use his money to chain Darren to him for at least one afternoon, that then become a night. And even when he is shown the reality, he is quick to find a reason, Darren after all came back, if he has stolen his money, it wasn’t for himself, Darren is proud and sincere, he is the same perfection he saw surfing like some mythical creature.
And Darren is all wounded pride, he is jumping like a spring, or like someone pocked in a place that hurts, because you know that what they said it’s true. Darren is not like those old fashioned heroines who would prefer to die rather than losing their innocence to the hand of a villain, Darren is more like those soiled doves, working in some brothel, but only to maintain an aging mother, or an helpless baby, or some other innocent creature.
Of course Alec is naïve, of course he knows that if not for his money he would have not met Darren; and of course Darren is far from being innocent, and he is interested, and weak, right until the last chapter. Does this make them less perfect characters? I think that indead this makes them the most interesting thing of the novel. Personally I have always found those virgin heroines quite boring, and the perfect hero a bit presumptuous. Who cares that Alec and Darren’s happily ever after depends on Alec’s money? If this means that Darren will have to care not more for money and that Alec has bought his perfect future, well, it will mean also that for once money bought happiness.
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