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This Holey Life [Paperback]

Sophie Duffy
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

1 Aug 2012
... that was the point at which I should've put my foot down. Stamped it hard. Stopped the past repeating itself. But what did I do? I did what Mum used to do in times of crisis. I left the room and went to put the kettle on.

Vicky is a reluctant curate's wife, struggling to come to terms with her own bereavement and her husband's new-found faith. Then, one Boxing Day, a knock on the door brings her annoying big brother, his teenage son and a cello into her life, turning her world upside down.

With her small terrace house in Penge now fit to burst, Vicky struggles to manage her three children and the joys of everyday family life. As a new threat lurks behind every corner, hope appears in the most unlikely of circumstances.

An enchanting, funny, sad yet bittersweet tale of life and living, one that reminds us it's not a race at all... but a journey.

Praise for Sophie's writing

**Winner of the Yeovil Literary Prize**

**Winner of the Luke Bitmead Bursary 2010**

** Shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize**

'Sophie Duffy has written a powerful first novel & shows huge promise' Katie Fforde

'A warm, moving, wonderful read' - Wendy Holden

'An extraordinary story... A born storyteller with a gift for characterization, she writes with warmth, lovely earthy detail and a pathos which keeps a lump lodged in the throat... echoes of Victoria Wood and Laurie Graham, it is a cracking first novel' - The Daily Mail

'Sophie Duffy is a talent to be reckoned with. She writes with empathy, clarity and huge skill. Read The Generation Game and enjoy!' - Margaret Graham

'a brave, bold, warm, rich, amusing, engaging novel which sits well alongside more established authors like Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum' - Hello Magazine

'Deftly written, very moving' - The Bookbag

'A book you just can't put down' - Western Morning News

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (1 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908775971
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908775979
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 178,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sophie is the winner of the 2010 Luke Bitmead Writers Bursary and the Yeovil Literary Prize 2006.

'The Generation Game' is her debut novel and is inspired by Sophie's childhood growing up in a sweet shop in Torquay. Her second novel, 'This Holey Life', is about a reluctant curate's wife. Both are published by Legend Press.

As part of Creative Writing Matters, Sophie appraises manuscripts, runs workshops and mentors novelists.

She lives by the seaside in Devon with her husband, three teenagers and two Tibetan Terriors. She can often be found in her shed at the bottom of the garden.

Product Description


'By turns deeply moving and funny, the narrative zips along in an appealing and spirited voice.' --Kate Long

'Sophie Duffy explores grief and the vagaries of inter-family relationships with her usual blend of warmth, wit and wisdom. A triumph.' --Margaret Graham

'Sophie Duffy is a real find. Sharp as a tack' --Laurie Graham --Laurie Graham

About the Author

Sophie Duffy lives in Teignmouth on the south coast of Devon with her family. She has been writing for over ten years and is the winner of the Luke Bitmead Bursary and the Yeovil Literary Prize, as well as being shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize.

She is interested in what family is, and how our past shapes our here and now. Memory, childhood, loss and love are recurrent themes in her novels. Sophie taught in primary schools in London for 14 years and is now a youth worker in Devon.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy read, but a dark subject 24 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Vicky is still grieving over her dead son, her plumber husband has just found God and become a vicar. Add to this her three daughters and then her misfit brother arrives with his son after a domestic fallout.

Some very engaging banter and the author deals with the subject of death and families in a delicate and sensitive way.

I did enjoy this book in the main, the only disagreement I would have is the main characters view on parenting, she thinks that mums should stay at home and run the family, is this woman from the Victorian era?

Most modern women would probably have feelings over this viewpoint, that being said this is an entertaining book and well worth reading.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small observations on domestic life 24 July 2012
By Deborah Swift VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I enjoyed this book which has an apt cover showing a black hole around which domestic items fly in confusion around a central hole.
Vicky has to put up with her older brother Martin, who arrives to stay at her house with his young son after he has become estranged from his wife. Vicky is grieving for her dead son, and the narrative is told through her point of view, whilst she goes through the ups and downs of coming to terms with her loss. The strength of this book is in its details, and the relationship of Vicky and Martin, which are acutely observed. To be picky, I would have liked more detail about her relationship with her husband, who has just become a vicar, this felt like an opportunity wasted. I would have preferred to hear his Thought for the Day rather than Vicky's, to get some sort of insight into his character. However the other members of Vicky and Martin's families were interesting and believable.

Although I enjoyed it, it went through a patch in the middle where just like the cover there was a lot of confusion with nothing much to hold it together. However, it was well-worth persevering because later in the book the gaps were filled in, the muddle unravelled, and the escaping loose ends all tied up neatly. Just like life, really, I suppose!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family life!... 10 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a good read!

The book follows the life of Vicky and her family. She has been thrown into the position of being the wife of a curate, has an impossible brother, three daughters.... etc.... It is engaging and a real read about a slightly dysfunctional situation...

The characters are all believable and everything seems to be tinged with a bit of humour.

It is an engaging read.

Would recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
When I first started reading, I wasn't certain I would be able to relate to Vicky and to her complicated life; frankly, I would have booted Martin out after the first night! Still, I kept reading, and found myself unable to stop. Vicky is a woman under siege, one battling with family history, the loss of a child, her husband's abrupt decision to embark on a life in the church, and the realities of her daily life. Vicky is a sympathetic character because she is real and because the way she works through her problems is real. I loved her daughters (especially Olivia), though I was less a fan of her husband- in my opinion he should have been paying more attention to the impact of his choices on her life. Martin was a nightmare and frankly so annoying that I'm giving this 4 stars rather than 5 because of him- I simply can't imagine why Vicky tolerated his presence in her house, brother of no brother. Regardless, this is a excellent look at one woman's attempt to hold it together for everyone else and yet somehow finding that she's in the place that she always needed to be. Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family life - good and bad 22 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is a realistic depiction of life - the good, the bad and the ugly! The heroine is Vicky who lives in a small terraced house in London with her three young daughters and her curate husband. She is on maternity leave following the birth of her last child. She loves her husband and children but has never got over the sudden and totally unexpected deaths of both her mother and baby son some years before. The death of her son, in particular, haunts her every day. Life is, therefore, something of a struggle for Vicky. She has also not got to grips with the sudden religious conversion of her husband Steve. He was a plumber and now, after something of an epiphany, is a curate. Vicky has never really come to terms with this and does not really see herself as a curate's wife.

Vicky's already difficult life is further complicated when her older brother (whom she does not get on with) arrives suddenly at her home on Boxing day with his teenage son. He has split up from his wife and takes up residence in Vicky's already cramped home. This is not her only problem as further problems ensue, one after the other.

If the above description makes this book sound like a tale of misery, it is anything but. It is warm-hearted and humorous. Vicky may have her problems but she copes, she survives. The characterisation is excellent. All of the characters, down to the months old baby, are vividly and realistically drawn. All of the characters are flawed, just like the rest of humanity, but they are likeable and believable and the reader cannot help but empathise with them. In particular we root for Vicky - we want her to survive and prosper.

This is a lovely novel, true to life, sad at times, but warm-hearted, humorous and sometimes though-provoking. I thoroughly recommend it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This was bleak at times but realistic and involving. ...
This was bleak at times but realistic and involving. It is a story about ordinary people who do ordinary things and learn to live with that. Well worth reading.
Published 1 day ago by lindsey
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
It charts the struggle of a wife whose husband had suddenly decided he needs to serve God as a minister. Read more
Published 5 months ago by mmmppph
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad light read
This is the story of Vicky, who is the rock of her vast family. She is compassionate, kind and obliging and keeps everything and everyone together in difficult family moments,... Read more
Published 5 months ago by hfffoman
3.0 out of 5 stars A patchy debut
I'm not sure about this book. It's not bad, and there are many saving graces such as : it's not chick lit, the heroine isn't looking for Mr Right and it is intelligently... Read more
Published 6 months ago by sam155
3.0 out of 5 stars So - so
With the 'chick lit' style cover I was expecting a book which would have me giggling but it wasn't like that at all . Read more
Published 10 months ago by Lesley - Ann
4.0 out of 5 stars A book with depth and humour and a very satisfying read
This is the story of Vicky and her attempts to juggle her roles as mother, vicar's wife in training, carer to an elderly father, sister to a dysfunctional brother and aunt to a... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ruby T
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing
I enjoyed the generation game which I thought was quirky and interesting but I found this rather dull. I didn't sympathise with the characters and found them uninspiring. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ms Maria J. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun, thought provoking read
I enjoyed this book. It did throw up some thoughts about family that I found interesting. I was expecting more of a chick lit read but was pleasantly surprised at what I found. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Laura Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Book Club Choice
Chosen by the book club I lead, we all found this an enjoyable read. See my book club reviews at [...]
Published 11 months ago by Merrilyn Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars a nice gentle read
quintessentially English and not too much religion, which would have turned me off entirely. good holiday reading and I'd defintely recommend it
Published 12 months ago by shezza
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