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The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs Paperback – 16 Feb 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (16 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444710419
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444710410
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christina Hopkinson is an author and journalist whose work has appeared in the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the Times, Grazia and Red magazine.

Her critically-acclaimed novels are, The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs and Just Like Proper Grown-Ups.

Christina lives in London with her husband and three children. You can find out more about her at or follow her on Twitter @xtinahopkinson.

Product Description


This should be compulsory reading for all working couples with small children, since it encapsulates precisely, but with plenty of humour, the madness of the modern working family (Sarah Vine, The Times)

'The new I Don't Know How She Does It' (Grazia)

'I read it, I really enjoyed it, I left it on the stairs.' (John O'Farrell)

Christina Hopkinson is a talented writer with a gift for observational humour and sharp one-liners (Spectator)

'Christina Hopkinson has wittily and very realistically tapped into the zeitgeist - literally the most relevant novel for a working mother since I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson.' (Plum Sykes, author of Bergdorf Blondes)

Book Description

What's the thing you hate most about the one you love? This is the funniest, most acutely-observed novel about marriage and motherhood, children and work that's been seen in years.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jon Rance on 23 Jun 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs by Christina Hopkinson is a truly laugh-out-loud wry take on wedded bliss gone awry. On the face of it, it seems to be just a middle-class comedy of errors about one women's fight to get her slothful husband to change his slovenly ways.

Joel is the traditional slacker; the husband who leaves his coffee mug around to collect all manner of detritus, discards wet towels like chewing gum wrappers and generally doesn't do his fair share around the house or with the kids, expecting Mary to pick up the pieces he leaves behind. All Mary wants is a neat, ordered house - just like her friend Mitzi - and so she starts The List, an excel spreadsheet of Joel's domestic disappointments and gives him six months to prove his worth or else.

However, as the book unfolds it becomes much more than just a domestic drama about Mary's marital discontent. At the heart of this book is the love story between Mary and Joel that with the introduction of children falls apart. It's the middle-class dream in all it's Aga, soy café lattes beauty turned upside down with the realisation that with children our lives are no longer our own. Mary's friend Mitzi seems to have it all; the beautiful, perpetually clean house, the wonderful children and the perfect alpha-male husband, while Mary is up to her arms in detritus and baby poo.

I won't give anything away but as with everything in life; the realisation that all is not what it seems and that we should always be wary of what we wish for comes true.

Being a married man with two children myself there was much to relate to in this book. The laughs were plentiful, the drama gripping, the scene in Norfolk shocking and the ending - as ending should be- was perfect.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Karen Baxter VINE VOICE on 21 Mar 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you have a husband or partner and children you will find 'The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs' by
Christina Hopkinson extremely amusing, plenty of laugh out loud moments throughout. In fact my husband
got quite fed up with me reading out bits to him especially as some snippets bared a remarkable resemblance
to someone very close to me ... need I say more!

Here's the gist ...

Mary is dissatisfied with her husband Joel big time. Her gripes (and boy there are a few) are mainly about
her husband's lack of ability in the domestic line of things, being totally incapable of tidying up after himself
for example really rankles her. On top of that there's his lethargic attitude to looking after their children
and the fact that he sides with his mother about all manner of minor but never the less annoying topics.

It's a typical woman versus man type of war, however this time with a difference ... Joel has no idea it's
even going on, totally oblivious in his laziness he fails to notice that Mary appears to be preoccupied of late,
in fact she is completely engrossed in her version of a star chart, this one's for her husband and whereas a
child's star chart keeps track of good deeds, this one keeps meticulous detail of all Joel's bad points.

I love the quote at the beginning of the book from the author 'To Alex - you constantly inspire me but you are
not the inspiration for the story of a grumpy woman married to an untidy man', but sometimes you get to wondering
just how does she know so much :)

A great read and a fun book to discuss with other member of a reading book club.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lincs Reader TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
Christina Hopkinson's novel is a wry look at modern-day marriage, totally honest, often funny and at times, alarmingly familiar. All too often it is the tiny irritations in life that make the most impact on how we are feeling; the wet towels left on the floor, the piles of loose change and crumpled tissues on the kitchen table, and yes, the pile of stuff at the bottom of the stairs. Mary decides she has had enough of Joel's laziness and compiles a complicated list that has debits and credits according to his behaviour - if he goes over his allocated credits, then she is thinking about divorce. Only Joel has no idea that the list exists.

At times I got incredibly irritated by Mary's whinges, on the face of it she has a pretty nice life, with a handsome husband, two beautiful children, a part time job that she loves and good friends. I began to ask myself what was the point of all of this. There were other times when I found myself nodding in agreement when she described Joel's annoying habits, but other times I was envious of her, and wishing I had a husband who could rustle up a fabulous meal at the drop of a hat - even if it did mean that he used every pan in the house.

This is a funny read that at times deals with some serious subjects. Mary's friend Mitzi and her husband Michael are two obnoxious characters who take a starring role towards the end of the book, even if it's a toe-curlingly embarrassing scene to read!

An easy read, that doesnt take long and looks at the everyday stresses and strains of life in a humorous and touching way.
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By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Aug 2014
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed the premise of this book. The idea that a woman, fed up with inequality in the home, would focus on the things her husband does not do in the domestic sphere and try to effect some kind of change to ensure a more equal partnership sounded reasonable and in the right hands could be thought provoking and funny.

As it was, I found this book more and more unpleasant as I read on. Mary comes across as graceless and ungrateful in equal measures. She strikes me as being more than a little unhinged. We all appreciate some of the domestic situations she describes, but is she really a) so blind to what she has that is good in her life, b) so surrounded by filth? I'm sorry, but her domestic descriptions did not ring true for a woman who is depicted as constantly cleaning and has a cleaner in for three hours a week and lives in a small house. If you clean your toilets as much as she does it is virtually impossible for them to sustain the kind of filth she's talking about. If you're that anal about scraping dirt from round the fridge moulding, would you really go on holiday and leave rotting food around the house for ants to find? It just didn't add up. It feels like the author exaggerates things to such an extent that the reality of what is most women's domestic life, and the humour, got thrown out in an attempt to blow everything up to cartoonish proportions. I sympathise with much of what she describes. I have a husband who leaves dirty socks about, and puts empty cereal packets back etc, but I did find myself losing sympathy with her about the way she fetishes it and her inability to do anything for or about her own stuff.

I also found it difficult to like Mary. She seems to hate herself, hate her life and hate her husband.
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