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What We Did on Our Holiday Paperback – 6 Apr 2000

39 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; Reprint edition (6 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552998478
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552998475
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,155,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Harding was born in a small Fenland village in the Isle of Ely. After village and grammar school he read English at St Catherine's College, Oxford. Since then he has spent most of his working life as a freelance writer, writing for a variety of national newspapers and magazines.

His books have been published in twelve countries and translated into nine languages. His first novel, What We Did On Our Holiday, was shortlisted for the W H Smith First Novel Award and was a huge critical and commercial success. It was filmed in 2006 by Granada for ITV. It was followed by the much acclaimed While The Sun Shines, and One Big Damn Puzzler.

His recent novel, Florence and Giles, an international bestseller, has sold more than 250,000 copies and has been optioned for a major film which is in development at the moment.

His latest novel, The Girl Who Couldn't Read, is the long-awaited sequel to Florence and Giles, although it can be read as a standalone novel by those who haven't read the earlier book.

For more information, including reviews of his books, author readings and photos visit John Harding's official website:

http://www.john-harding.co.uk/

Product Description

Amazon Review

Nick is 36 and he's still going on holiday with his Mum and Dad. ButWhat We Did on Our Holiday is no ordinary outing. The health and sanity of his elderly parents are retreating rapidly, and this may be their final sojourn in the sun. Nick takes them to Malta, a cherished spot in his father's wartime memories, and in doing so unleashes an army of skeletons from the family cupboard.

Meanwhile, Nick's wife Laura has a biological clock louder than Big Ben--and she is determined to become pregnant. Nick is equally determined--by foul means or fair--to avoid fatherhood, and enlists an array of unconventional contraceptive methods, including sunburn, a saucepan of Horlicks and a loaded turkey baster. None of these, however, cause quite so much chaos as Anthony Spiteri, the debonair Maltese businessman claiming kinship with Nick's family.

Harding has crafted a witty and original plot which tackles the awkward aspects of old age in a voice that is refreshingly honest. He paints a touching and sensitive picture of a couple in their final years, but avoids sentimentality. Nick's mother is 18 stone and worries she will waste away if she misses breakfast. His father meanwhile, terminally constipated and rarely intelligible, wields the word "toilet" as his one remaining weapon. The humour--centred around funny foreigners, bowel movements and sex--is very British, but this is far from a cosy book, and its conclusion is as moving as it is unpredictable. --Matthew Baylis

Review

"'A wonderfully funny, original and moving novel...Harding has knife-sharp observation, immaculate timing, and the guts to take his story as far as it will go'" -- Helen Dunmore "'Poignant, hilarious and ultimately deeply moving...a real page turner...a wonderful novel'" -- Marika Cobbold "'Beautifully crafted...the perfect marriage of humour and heart'" -- Glenn Patterson "'A wonderful novel...written with great humour and a rare generosity of spirit. Truly original'" -- Deborah Moggach

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 May 2000
Format: Paperback
This is not the sort of book that I normally read and as a rule, I'm not very keen on books written in the first person. However, this book had me captivated from beginning. It gives a great insight into Parkinson's Disease (not the shaking kind!), which obviously springs from a certain amount of personal experience. It was dealt with in a down-to-earth manner with humour, thus preventing it from being too heavy.
The story tells Nick and his wife, Laura, taking his parents to Malta for a holiday, as his father was based there during the war. Although it is tacit, everyone knows that it will be his fathers last holiday. His mother is a delight, with her total confidence that she is still slim (she is at least a size 20!) and her much-used phrases, whilst carrying the burden of looking after her husband in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. There is also a family secret connected with the island and they are intent on getting to the bottom of it, with somewhat unexpected consequences. Speaking of unexpected ... the ending !
Without saying too much about the plot, I would say that I had great difficulty in putting this book down, reading late into the night and I wanted the book to carry on after the end! I really want to know what happens to the characters and would love a sequel! A thoroughly enjoyable book with just the right amount of pathos. My friends and family are getting bored with me raving on about it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Khandeish on 28 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
This book amazed me because the writer not only gave a well written account of caring for a disabled loved one on holiday, but also an accurate one. I can only think that he has actually cared for someone in this way himself to have portrayed the situation with such feeling. He covers the guilt at not doing enough, the desire for freedom and the nursing in a sensitive and honest way. He adds his own humour to the story allowing his readers to see the funny side of events. Read to the end and dream on......
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 May 2000
Format: Paperback
A brilliant first novel. One of those books that sucks you in from the first page and keeps you enthralled all the way through. Parkinson's disease may seem like a depressing subject matter but not in the way Harding has written about it. I laughed, I cried, I cringed but I always wanted to read more. The ending will take your breath away. Read this book and you'll never forget it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
Since reading this book my girlfriend and I have found ourselves saying "Yis," whenever we want to answer a question positively and get what we want. "Get it up," will also never quite mean the same again . This is such a funny, warm book. A real joy to read. I loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Janette Skinner on 5 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
The title of this book is evocative of school essays after the summer break, when children are made to make their holiday interesting enough to make a story. This book however is one of the most interesting I have read for a very long time. The characters are really well done and the pace of the story is just right to keep you reading, in my case, without many pauses, to the very end.
The book description perhaps gives away too much information, but there are enough surprises in the plot, loveable characters, and also some very good peripheral characters i.e. the four nylon track suited holiday neighbours in differing colours, and Anthony's bitchy girlfriend.
The initial reason for the holiday is that it is a present from Nick and Laura to Nick's parents, then the secondary purpose is added, as there is another son of Nick's father born as a result of a liaison in Malta during the war, before his present marriage, and they now want to find him. In the end they find out a lot, but not quite what they were looking for.
The subject of the father's Parkinson's and the care needed is portrayed in a very practical and straightforward way. There are tragic and also hilarious moments of misunderstandings and miscommunication, and lots of detailed description of the personal care needed for someone disabled which might be an eye-opener for some. There is also a great feeling of love in this family and the book has a very satisfactory ending. I would highly recommend this book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
As someone who regularly holidays with a disabled person (not Parkinson's but just as 'difficult)', it is wonderfully refreshing to read this book which 'tells it like it is'. The delight of Harding's book is that he manages to avoid the mawkish, the sentimental or any attempt to evoke pity from the reader. So, what could have been a rather depressing vignette of 'real life' is, instead, a joyous book telling of different types of love.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 May 2000
Format: Paperback
Not since Notes from a Small Island have I encountered a book that caused me so much public embarrassment at this one. I'm ashamed to say that I drew a small crowd in the bookshop by virtue of the volume and duration of my laughter having opened the book at random and come across the infamous turkey baster/Horlicks incident. While that's the passage that I have thrust into the hands of everybody I know and demanded they read, the rest of the book is a delight too. By turns hilarious and poignant, although I found Maltese half-brother rather cliched, I was dismayed to come to the end of this novel. But what a fine ending it was - simulataneously shocking, tragic and joyous. The book can be slightly uncomfortable in places because Harding writes about things never normally discussed with even our closest relatives, but it opens up valid and important questions about quality of life and whether our culture of prolonging life at any cost is actually morally right.
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