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How to Build a Girl [Hardcover]

Caitlin Moran
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 8.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

3 July 2014

What do you do in your teenage years when you realise what your parents taught you wasn't enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes - and build yourself.

It's 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there's no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde - fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer - like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontes - but without the dying young bit.

By 16, she's smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She's writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realises she's built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?

Imagine The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease, with a soundtrack by My Bloody Valentine and Happy Mondays. As beautiful as it is funny, How To Build a Girl is a brilliant coming-of-age novel in DMs and ripped tights, that captures perfectly the terror and joy of trying to discover exactly who it is you are going to be.

Frequently Bought Together

How to Build a Girl + Moranthology + How To Be a Woman
Price For All Three: 18.15

Buy the selected items together
  • Moranthology 6.29
  • How To Be a Woman 3.86

Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (Fiction) (3 July 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0091949009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091949006
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.4 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Brilliantly observed, thrillingly rude and laugh-out-loud funny" (Helen Fielding)

"I have so much love for Caitlin Moran" (Lena Dunham)

"Binge-read all of #HowToBuildAGirl in one sitting. Even missed supper. A first" (Nigella Lawson)

"spirited coming of age novel romps from strength to strength.I'm a Moran fan" (Lionel Shriver The Times)

"She writes with breathtaking brio.Moran shows her shining soul - which is even more remarkable than her wit - when she writes about being young, looking for love and the utter vileness of the class system . . .almost every page has something on it which makes you smile, makes you sad or makes you think - often all three at once, in one sentence" (Julie Burchill The Spectator)

Book Description

The number 1 Sunday Times bestseller, the debut grown-up novel from Caitlin Moran, bestselling author of How To Be A Woman.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You've read it already....... 8 July 2014
.....only with different names. This is basically How To Be a Woman all over again, only the heroine's surname is Morrigan not Moran. Actually had to stop a couple of times to check I hadn't accidentally picked up the other book by mistake. There is not much new here.

Moran is a very funny writer, but please. Also all the reviews calling it a "debut novel"? Come on, she's been writing books for decades. She is essentially the female Kingsley Amis: you get the same entertaining, but far too familiar book again, and again, and again. How many home schooled working class 90s teens from Wolverhampton do we need to hear about for her to acknowledge, we got the point?

This seems to be written for adults who want to read the YA fiction they wish they had in the 90s instead of real books. OK for all that but I expected more. Moran has a lot of talent. Here's hoping someone pushes her to write about something other than herself next time.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Really disappointing. I was hoping for a well-written, decent novel, as Moran's columns are always a great read, but this seemed to be written on a 'write-whatever-springs-to-mind-and-edit-it-later-oops-ran-out-of-time-so-it-didn't-get-edited' basis. Such a shame - I had been looking forward to it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A typically funny read from Caitlin Moran, although I could have done without the frequent references to the subject's frantic teenage masturbation...especially when conducted rather disturbingly next to her younger sleeping brother.

I was also disappointed to find a duplicated passage (literally word for word) from Moranthology - the description of her job interview with a newspaper and joke about the line from the film Annie. I haven't finished the book yet so am hoping there won't be any more repetition.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By anna m
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Five stars to How to be a woman, same or thereabouts to Moranthology, and I LOVED Raised by wolves on the tellybox. But reading the same story again just felt dull, and a bit sad.

There is far too much evidence for me to think of Moran as a one trick pony. I'd just recommend any fellow fans to avoid this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Here we go again... 26 Aug 2014
It’s ironic that a novel about a young woman who becomes a music journalist is like listening to a monkey endlessly pounding out the same two notes on a piano.

Moran is a good writer, stylistically you cannot fault her, but her subject matter has now officially not just worn thin, but completely and utterly worn through. Despite the disclaimer at the beginning, this is really just a warming-over of her own story, already well and truly milked in How to be a Woman and squeezed even further dry by her columns.

The only thing that I can see is different between her own life is the number of siblings. As is well documented, Moran is one of eight, in this novel there are “only” five children, with the youngest twins. Mercifully, this lets the reader off of her regular entrenched proselytising about the welfare state and her belief that having almost a football team of children when you have no hope at all of financially supporting them at all is some kind of noble enterprise.

Most worrying of all is the ending; it is left quite open, with the heroine’s move to London. I have a feeling that this is not the last we’ll hear of Dolly Wilde.

Water finds its level; Moran is unlikely to rise any furhter than this until she finds some new subject matter. Even enfants terribles all need to grow up some day.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Covers old ground - avoid 9 July 2014
I'm a fan of Caitlin and wanted to like this, bug it was a big disappointment. It covers the exactly same ground as the autobiographical 'How to be a woman' and Caitlin's sitcom 'Raised by wolves', ie being an overweight, unpopular teenage girl raised in a large, poor family in the Midlands. Caitlin only seems capable of writing about herself - which works well for her column, but not for what is supposedly a work of fiction.

This book really doesn't have much in the way of a plot, and I suspect it would never have been published if written by a lesser-known author. At times, the writing felt forced. I read that Caitlin really struggled to write this book, needing lots of encouragement and intervention from her publishers, and I suspect it's because she's already written extensively about the subject matter and had nothing new to say. How much can you milk the experience of being being poor/living in a big family before people get bored? Well, I'm bored. And this book came across as a cynical money-making effort rather than a work of true creativity.

If you haven't already read it, I recommend the excellent 'How to be a woman' instead. If you have already read it, don't bother with this 'new' book, which is truly nothing new.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bitterly Disappointing 21 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having read 'How to be a Woman' and publicly cried with laughter reading it on my daily commute, I pre-ordered 'How to build a girl' anticipating another great read from Caitlin Moran. However, I was bitterly disappointed. Whilst Moran states that this book is entirely fiction and the main character of Johanna is not based on herself, the similarities with descriptions of her own childhood are uncanny. The character essentially has exactly the same upbringing and early career as Moran and you can't help but think all the scenes are based on anecdotes from Moran's own wild lifestyle in the 90s music scene. This book seems lazy. There is nothing new here besides the over the top, unnecessarily descriptive accounts of a teenage girl's sex life which leave you feeling slightly uncomfortable and I'm not usually one to be prudish at all.

It seems to me that Moran lazily rushed out a book based on her own life which she has already written about rather than use her imagination to come up with a new story and littered it with vulgar scenes in order to be 'controversial' and 'shocking'. Perhaps she should stick to non-fiction. I can relate to that and it and has had me in tears both with laughter and anguish.

I cannot recommend this book but I strongly recommend you buy How to be a Woman instead as that is a book that truly touches the heart and changes how you feel about being a woman.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
Was so looking forward to this but was disappointed. It's just a fictionalized rehash of HTAW but not as funny.
Published 1 day ago by P Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended....
Hilarious and very entertaining. A great story written in a very down to earth way.
Published 2 days ago by M L BUCKLAND
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really great for me.
I enjoyed this book up to a point, but got a bit bogged down in the middle. There were some laugh out loud moments but I wasn't a great fan of this book - sorry because I've seen... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Penelope Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
Loved it, so funny, inspired me to start blogging, brilliant stuff, thanks Caitlin you rock (: im so disappointed it isnt all true?!
Published 3 days ago by Jessicake
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit disappointed with this book - for me it was just ...
Bit disappointed with this book - for me it was just Caitlin Moran's own life turned into a book with slightly different name changes. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Julie A Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars a Summary of things passed
How refreshing to read such an honest remembrance of one' s teenage years. Especially if one wasn't of the favoured Pre-Raphaelite type beauties, with legs up to there, blonde hair... Read more
Published 5 days ago by carol queen
2.0 out of 5 stars Same old story
I found this book, especially the first half, very similar to the first few chapters of How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Toyosi Ajimoko
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud funny (honestly)
Even better than How To Be A Woman - This book is so funny that if you try to stifle an audible laugh whilst reading you will probably end up doing silent, shoulder-shaking,... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars amusing
Great refs to past music, & refs to the Midlands too :) funny & insightful....lived up to the hype for me
Published 7 days ago by lou star
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit poor Caitlin - what are you doing?
I feel horribly disloyal about writing this. But I didnt think much of this. I loved "How to be a woman" but this is a bit 'samey' and not that good. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Liv123
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