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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Little White Car

Danuta de Rhodes

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To purchase The Little White Car

Title: The Little White Car
Author: Danuta de Rhodes
Genre: Novel
Written: 2004
Length: 262 pages
Availability: The Little White Car - US
The Little White Car - UK
The Little White Car - Canada
Lady Di oder Das kleine weiße Auto - Deutschland
  • 'Danuta de Rhodes' is the pseudonym of Dan Rhodes. It's unclear at this time whether this is a new persona he has permanently adopted (and whether s/he has changed his name by deed poll, lopped of his penis to get in character, etc.).

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Our Assessment:

C : pointless, ever so slight

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Entertainment Weekly B 17/9/2004 Jeff Jensen
The Guardian . 10/7/2004 Elena Seymenliyska
Independent on Sunday A+ 11/7/2004 Matt Thorne
The NY Times Book Rev. B+ 24/10/2004 Caryn James
San Francisco Chronicle . 19/9/2004 Michael Scott Moore
Scotland on Sunday . 4/7/2004 Tom Adair
Sunday Telegraph . 11/7/2004 Patrick Ness

  Review Consensus:

  No consensus, but some are impressed

  From the Reviews:
  • "For its first 30 pages, The Little White Car seems like a tediously hip satire of alienated young Parisian girls numbed out on sex, drugs, and avant-garde rock & roll. Then its heroine realizes she just killed Princess Diana, and suddenly, a larky bit of chick lit becomes a lean, mean hilarity machine." - Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly

  • "It's hard to work out what the point might be of this spoof "debut" (.....) This (...) is just a limp joke (at the expense of what ? Shit lit ?)." - Elena Seymenliyska, The Guardian

  • "(B)y far the best book Rhodes has published. (...) It's beautifully written, and very funny. Operating under disguise seems to have liberated Rhodes, and I'm eager to see his next incarnation. Only the very best novelists can reinvent themselves with each book, and few have taken the process as far as Rhodes." - Matt Thorne, Independent on Sunday

  • "(S)imply a witty diversion. (...) (I)t doesn't achieve much narrative momentum." - Caryn James, The New York Times Book Review

  • "Like any good high-concept novel, The Little White Car has no idea how to end -- Part Three itself is a bit of a car wreck -- but that doesn't undo its charm; Rhodes' satire for most of the novel is smooth and deadly fun." - Michael Scott Moore, San Francisco Chronicle

  • "The story speeds along in the fast lane, controlled more deftly than Veronique’s driving. It isn’t a chore to hop on for the ride. (...) (H)oax or not, The Little White Car is a joy." - Tom Adair, Scotland on Sunday

  • "Taken as a novel, it couldn't be slighter. There is no huge climax, no building of comic tension. It does not have Vieta's depth, nor is it as rich or as poignant, and while it lacks that book's cruelty, it also lacks its teeth. (...) And yet it is funny -- often extremely funny (.....) Slim, minor, not really a novel, but with moments of comic dazzle, The Little White Car is the sound of a big talent taking a breather." - Patrick Ness, Sunday Telegraph

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       For some reason author Dan Rhodes decided to publish this novel under the transparent pseudonym 'Danuta de Rhodes'. Unfortunately, that's pretty much the cleverest thing about this book.
       Actually, the basic idea isn't a bad one: the central character, Veronique, is involved in a car accident, hers being the little white car that crashed into Princess Diana's, with the familiar fatal results ("Oh shit" she realises, only a day later, "I killed the princess."). Unfortunately, Rhodes isn't very daring with that premise. (Maybe that explains the sex-change: Rhodes apparently didn't have the balls to really run with this idea.)
       The book describes Veronique's efforts, with the help of some friends whom she either confided in (Estelle) or who figured it out (former boyfriend Jean-Pierre), to try to dismantle the car and destroy the evidence -- as well as to keep a suspicious colleague (Françoise) from going to the authorities. There are also cameo appearances by a pigeon-flying uncle, a crook, and Veronique's former English boyfriend, but, like everything in the book, not much effort is expended on making any of these stories or sidelights compelling.
       The ideas aren't bad, and occasionally Rhodes offers a nice observation, such as the car which, despite all their desperate efforts to tear it apart, remains: "still unmistakably car-shaped, car-sized and white". Once or twice there are moments when one is led to believe Rhodes might actually be on to something, as when there's the exchange:

     'I'm going to London.'
     'Oh. Why are you going to London ?'
     'To get my toe cut off,' said Veronique.
     ''OK,' said Estelle. 'Off you go then. I'll see you when you get back.'
       Unfortunately, Rhodes' idea of suspense is to throw out something like that and then not explain it for ten or twenty pages, as he does repeatedly in the book. It's an irritating narrative device that he doesn't employ very well -- though it is in keeping with the very laid-back approach both author and characters affect throughout the novel.
       There's little suspense here: the police never seem to get very close to suspecting Veronique, and the race to destroy the evidence is hardly even moderately thrilling. The only thing that Rhodes comes close to doing well is his presentation of some off-beat ideas and the tone of his (and his characters') laid-back acceptance of the games people play. Still, this is largely immature writing -- not bad writing, but an author coasting on what talent he has (and Rhodes has some -- though far too little to get away with this). The book is pointless and boring, it's writing for the sake of telling what barely amounts to a story, the author far too pleased with himself and offering little to the reader. The Little White Car is so brief and fast (and forgettable) that it literally amounts to a throwaway book, and it's hard to imagine why anyone should bother with it.

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The Little White Car: Reviews: Dan 'Danuta de' Rhodes: Other books by Dan Rhodes under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Contemporary British fiction

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About the Author:

       Danuta de Rhodes is actually British author Dan Rhodes, born in 1972. Ha, ha.

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© 2004-2022 the complete review

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