Pollen, Bella

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Pollen, Bella

PERSONAL:

Female.

CAREER:

Writer and novelist.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

All about Men, Pan Books (London England), 1997.

B Movies, Blue Love, Pan Books (London England), 1999.

Hunting Unicorns, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Daydream Girl, Isis Publishing (Oxford, England), 2006.

Midnight Cactus, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Bella Pollen is a British novelist who grew up in New York City. In her debut novel, Hunting Unicorns, protagonist Maggie Monroe, an American journalist, is sent to England on assignment. While there, she is to report on the current state of the British aristocracy and its declining financial and social status in Great Britain. Accompanied by two males who make up her film crew, Maggie reluctantly starts her work, much preferring to be covering a war or anything more exciting and career-enhancing. She meets Rory Jones, owner of a unique London agency called Stately Locations. Rory and his agency exist to help cash-strapped aristocrats arrange tours and other income-generating uses for their sometimes vast, often beautiful properties. Rory helps Maggie by putting her in touch with various bluebloods throughout the country. Unknown to Maggie, Rory is an aristocrat himself, heir to the Bevan family after the death of his older brother, Daniel. Though Rory tries to steer her away, Maggie visits Bevan Mansion and charms his parents. As the story unfolds, the deceased Daniel steps in to narrate, observing his brother's travails from a secure spot in the afterlife. Despite themselves, Maggie and Rory find a romantic attraction forming between them. When Maggie takes on a more serious investigation into the Nazi connections of Rory's family, however, any chance at a relationship is threatened. "This is a fabulous story about a clash of cultures, truth, love that demands risk, honesty that carries consequences, and what ‘home’ means," observed Annette Wells in Kliatt. A Publishers Weekly critic noted that "Pollen's flashy, witty, urbane romantic comedy digs affectionately at the blue-blooded English."

Midnight Cactus finds protagonist Alice Coleman trapped in an unhappy, stagnant marriage with her British businessman husband, Robert. Hoping to get a break from her circumstances, Alice gathers her children and heads to America, determined to revive her husband's abandoned project of turning the dead mining town of Termerosa, Arizona (which he bought as an investment) into a southwestern resort. At first, Alice and her children find it difficult to adjust to the radical differences between London and Arizona, where poisonous wildlife creeps and even the environment itself can be deadly. Worse, perhaps, tensions are high all around her as illegal immigrants, border guards, and immigrant traffickers regularly clash. At the urging of Mexican caretaker Benjamin, Alice hires taciturn cowboy Henry Duval to help with the renovations. Soon, Alice finds herself attracted to the withdrawn Duval and the tragic secret he carries that drives him to secretly help poor Mexicans cross the border into the United States. Robert's unexpected arrival from England complicates things for Alice and Duval, and the situation erodes even faster when a murder occurs and a vigilante anti-immigrant group turns violent. Pollen "creates a scorching landscape and a large, finely drawn cast," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. She "deftly" combines "comical dialogue from the Coleman kids, a beautifully evoked desert setting, and an intriguing romance," observed Booklist critic Joanne Wilkinson. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel "engagingly perky, with big themes—justice, immigration and lost children—surprisingly well served by the author's comic, quirky style."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 2004, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of Hunting Unicorns, p. 1704; October 15, 2006, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Midnight Cactus, p. 29.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2006, review of Midnight Cactus, p. 983.

Kliatt, July, 2005, Annette Wells, review of Hunting Unicorns, p. 24.

Publishers Weekly, April 18, 2005, review of Hunting Unicorns, p. 40; October 2, 2006, review of Midnight Cactus, p. 38.

ONLINE

Fantastic Fiction,http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (January 2, 2007), bibliography of Bella Pollen.

Panmacmillan.com,http://www.panmacmillan.com/ (January 2, 2007), Guy Pringle, interview with Bella Pollen.

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Pollen, Bella

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