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The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs [Paperback]

Christina Hopkinson
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

16 Feb 2012

Mary Gilmour is struggling to cope. Her job is part time but housework is full time, leaving no time at all for her two young sons - let alone herself. For Mary, there is only one thing standing between her and a life of organised contentment: her husband, Joel.

Since star charts worked wonders improving their children's behaviour, she commits her unknowing husband to the same fate. A spreadsheet, detailing every dirty tissue, every lost sock, and every wet towel on the bed.

Joel has six months to prove his good behaviour outweighs the bad. Or else...

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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 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,385 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Typically woman versus man humour. 21 Mar 2011
By Karen Baxter VINE VOICE
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy and Funny Read 6 April 2011
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How true to life! 31 July 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I found this book so true to life (apart from the Norfolk episode which kept me giggling for ages!) Everyone who is married should read this and realise that nothing is perfect. Christina must write from experience as she has domestic hell portrayed exactly right. I shall certainly view my 'posh' friend through very different eyes now!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Really compelling
Insightful and well written exploration of relationships and the effect of children on them.
Great plot and well rounded characters.
Published 1 month ago by cat26
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking & funny
I thoroughly enjoyed The Pile, I think all of us could associate with it, in one way or another. It's thought provoking as well as making for a funny read.
Published 3 months ago by Hershey1806
1.0 out of 5 stars Not my thing
It was funny to begin with, but it is one of the few books that I couldn't bring myself to finish. It was recommended to my, my sister loves it but I found it tedious.
Published 8 months ago by Heavenly Vegan
2.0 out of 5 stars Not funny
Read it for book club and I really did not enjoy it- how I wanted to slap the woman in the story.
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and relevant
Every now and then an author captures the struggles motherhood with wit and panache and I felt Hopkinson has done so. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mum of the animals
2.0 out of 5 stars What a moan
Would have probably made an amusing article in a Sunday Supplement but didn't warrant a whole book. Just seemed an endless list of whines from a sufferer of OCD. Read more
Published 12 months ago by CMM
4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining read
This reads true to life, with realistically drawn characters and settings. Very easy to read and entertaining, but thought-provoking at the same time.
Published 13 months ago by Ms Helen Claire Pople
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Saw recommended in a magazine, thoroughly enjoyed book and would recommend. Arrived quickly and as described. def recommend this if people like the sound of it
Published 14 months ago by busy mum
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
This book seems like a lightweight read and to some extent it is, but it is certainly food for thought in how we perceive our own relationships.
Published 14 months ago by D
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny
Easy to read book with lots of very funny bits in it :) Even my husband liked it... Greatly recommended!
Published 15 months ago by Isabel
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