Not Fifty Shades of Awful, thank God!
I was surprised by Amanda Egan’s Diary of a Mummy Misfit. It’s always a dodgey business requesting to review another blogger’s book. It could be brilliant, in which case the review will write itself. It could be ok, in which case you’ll spend years trying to think of adjectives to fill out the blog post, or it could be Fifty Shades of Awful. Thankfully in Egan’s case, I need not spend the rest of this post seeking adjectives as fill copy.
The first surprise came in the form the book is written. Diary of a Mummy Misfit is written in diary form – the clue’s in the name – and I was surprised that it was so easy to read. Often diary first person reads as if you’re snooping on someone else or reads as an incredible confessional a la Fifty Shades of Grey. In the former approach I always come away feeling slighty stressed that the writer needs a damn good therapist, and in the latter, my response is dark concern. Perhaps the writer would benefit from not just the therapist, but some decent drugs as well?
But Diary of a Mummy Misfit is engaging and I don’t say that lightly. The main character, Libby Marchant, is an ordinary middle class Mum of one who makes the decision to enrol her only child in the prestigious and poncey Manor House private school. The collision of worlds, between the awful Meemies and the Marchants and friends, results in an often hilarious satire of the haves in direct contrast to the well-meaning and increasingly exhausted have-nots. Libby may well be a Mummy Misfit in this artificial world of nannies and holidays in Ile de Ré but she is certainly not a misfit in the real world, where couples love each other (and who wouldn’t love her delicious husband Ned?), their children, pets and licorice allsort friends. And that’s what counts, the book quietly confirms. The distance between the haves and have-nots widens as the story reaches its conclusion, but the distance is not all about wealth and prestige but is more about real companionship, love and the things that matter most. The ‘things’ Libby Marchant and friends have in spades! Egan’s ability to weave this into the storyline without sounding preachy, was my second surprise, and kudos to her.
My third surprise came in the shape of a laugh. The reviews on Amazon all confirmed that Diary of a Mummy Misfit was funny, so I approached the book cautiously. Funny is a funny thing. What I find funny, you may not, as the disparity between comedians like Johnny Carr and Tim Minchin demonstrates effectively. (The first in my mind is ewww yuk, the second is a yes please! Just so you know). ‘Diary’ is funny, but I found it to be a satirical broad grin funny, rather than a belly laugh funny, and that is just perfect for me. Maybe it’s because I related to Libby’s experiences, being the Mum of kids who have attended both private and public schools and being a private school old girl myself, I smiled with chagrin at the mothers who demanded their nannies do all the cooking for the Christmas Fair, and instructed party planners to host a sushi birthday party for ten year olds!
Been there, got the wasabi.
But this ability to relate to the characters and the quality of the writing is an absolute delight. A light, easy to read book which doesn’t require great investment from the reader. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it as a beach read. Download it here (click the link) and read it on your Kindle somewhere hot and sunny and give yourself good reason to count your blessings in your own life as you acknowledge Libby’s blessings.
No need for referring to the Wikipedia font of knowledge about the dubious practices of BDSM as the runaway success of the Fifty Shades (WHY?) requires. Here’s an example of a good, solid, chick-lit author who writes well and deserves to be sold on the book stand in direct contrast to the trilogy of tripe that is running away with the best-selling list.
And the best news of all? Amanda Egan has written a follow-up to Mummy Misfit, and… da da da dum….she has just released her latest book – Completing the Puzzle.
Go. Read. Enjoy.