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Book Review

A Mother's Gift by Britney and Lynne Spears

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Boxtree, £9.99

She sings, she dances, she pouts, she poses, and now she pens original fiction. Is anything beyond the reach of pop sensation Britney Spears? Co-written with her mother, Lynn, 'A Mother's Gift' is recommended for ages 9 and up; it's a sugar-sweet rags-to-riches tale of a girl from small town Mississippi whom everyone knows "sure can sing".

Publishers Random House reportedly paid the mother-daughter team $1million for a two-book deal and would have us believe that in between selling eight million copies of her last album, touring, making videos and preparing to star in a teen-movie, Britney found time to sit her taut buttocks down at the word processor and compose what she describes as "something inspirational" (she also co-wrote her autobiography with her mother last year you know).

However, the launch of the book last month was somewhat marred by press reports that it was actually written by a man called Tom Carter. Carter was the ghostwriter on LeAnn Rimes' Christmas story and has also written several pop biographies. All that can be said is, he could have done a better job.

Britney fans reviewing the book online have reported disappointment - "It was so badly written I wanted to cry", to raving adoration - "I finished it in 2 hours because I could not put it down". There's no accounting for taste.

The revelatory plot twist that comes at the end will be predictable to even the most star-struck 9-year-old and the intended didactic merits of a book that seems to condone Holly's mortification over her mother's "ugly red scar...that makes people who don't know her turn away" are certainly debatable.

A portion of the proceeds from sales will go to the Britney Spears Foundation, which operates a performing arts camp for disadvantaged 11 to 14 year olds, but I suggest a less painful way of supporting the cause would be to send the money direct – I'd pay them to take this book off my desk.

Cristín Leach

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