RUDE AWAKENING

VANESSA WALTERS is 18, black and British, and she doesn't hang about. She's now in her first year studying law at University College London, but she wrote her debut novel, Rude Girls (Pan pounds 4.99), in her summer holidays from school; her headmistress recommended her to get an agent, and this led to a substantial advance from Macmillan while she was still a schoolgirl. The novel moves at speed, too. By the end of Chapter One we have met a gang of Yardies, been to a raucous all-day music festival, witnessed a shooting and been involved in a car-chase through the streets of Hackney. Shree, Paula and Janice, our three fun-loving, bare-as-you- dare heroines have appeared, complete with descriptions of their hairstyles (laborious) and body types (petite, stocky, tall and thin respectively).

The Yardies drive up in their black Mercedes "emitting slack music", a very bad sign. For all the attention given to Paula's baby, Shree's drug-dealer dad and Janice's middle-class family, the action centres around the trio's attempts to find true love with a boy who is "kriss" rather than "a dog". Will Shree manage to shake off the evil gangster Nero? Will Paula get rid of Michael, her no-good babyfather, and will Janice, in the funniest sub-plot of all, ever learn that laid-back ragga dee-jay Elroy loves her more than Rolex-wearing "coconut" Maurice. Janice gets a job - her friends see this as a definite, though harmless, eccentricity, funded as they are by the proceeds of dealing or by the State - and falls in with black accountant Maurice. He disapproves of her batty-riders, lurex and hair decorations. In one hilarious scene, Shree and Paula strip Janice of her dowdy new gear, and take her out in a pink, gold, silver and blue "glittering sequinned top and leggings suit ... [with] diamond dollar signs and 'Dem nuh wicked like me' in gold beads across the chest".

The author does not seem entirely at home with the Yardies ("Until recently, Terror had been enjoying the good life. A craving for luxuries had led him into a life of babymothers, constant raving and lavish spending. But this decadent lifestyle had loosened his wits") and her grip on Maurice's upmarket milieu is equally shaky. A spokeswoman for the publishers said: "The book is not imaginative; she's writing about her own experiences and her community." Well, there's a little bit more to it than that. Walters turns out to be the product of a swanky private girls' school, Queen's College in Harley Street, W1. Jim Hutchinson, Deputy Head of Queen's College, is bubbling over with enthusiasm for his former pupil. "She came in via the assisted place scheme - all her fees were paid for her. Initially she was quiet and shy, but we soon uncovered a multi-talented personality: at 14 she could act, dance, sing and write, and there's an academic side to her too: she studied Greek at 'A' Level and she wants to be a lawyer." Hutchinson is head of computer studies and used to tell Walters off for printing out huge reams of prose: "It isn't a photocopier!" Walters used to try out selections from the book on her friends: "It existed almost in serial form: you'd see gangs of girls laughing hysterically," says Hutchinson.

Queen's College itself is a notable establishment; soon to celebrate its 150th anniversary, it was a pioneer of girls' education. "We like to point out that 'Miss Beale and Miss Buss / Were educated by us'," says Hutchinson. Another ex-pupil is Emma Freud: "she was always going off to do exciting things, acting and so forth, but just like Vanessa, completely unspoiled by all the attention." They are both, he says proudly, the type of independent-minded young women that "we churn out here".

Ms Walters may have a bit to learn about technique, but her characters are racy, believable and sharply defined, her style is amusing (perhaps more so than she intends) and the yap-yap of her three feisty heroines fits comfortably into the current trend for fiction led by authentic, spicy dialogue. For anyone who isn't black, teenage and London-bred, it's a wonderfully enjoyable piece of earwigging.

Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London