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What We Did on Our Holiday [Paperback]

John Harding
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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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

Book Description

Laugh-out-loud funny, lump-in-the-throat sad, taboo-breaking novel about family life and the horrors and hilarity of caring for elderly relatives. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

How old do you have to be before you stop going on holiday with your parents? Nick's 36 and married and he hasn't cracked it yet...

Nick could have a great time on Malta if it weren't for one thing. His family. His wife Laura, biological alarm clock ringing, is desperate for children which means a nightly test of Nick's ingenuity to resist her amorous advances. There's Dad, afflicted with Parkinson's disease, scarcely able to walk or talk, unsure which country or decade he's in and obsessed by sex and lavatories. And there's Mum, weighing in at a formidable 18 stone (although she's convinced she's size 10) with a personality to match. Then there's the ghost from Dad's wartime past, come back to haunt them all...

Tackling a taboo subject with sensitivity, compassion and a total lack of sentimentality, What We Did on Our Holiday is about the time in our lives when we find ourselves looking after the very people we'd always assumed would be there to look after us. And it is also almost certainly the first novel in English literature to begin with the word 'toilet'.

About the Author

John Harding was born in a small Fenland village in the Isle of Ely in 1951. After local village and grammar schools, he read English at St Catherine's College, Oxford, where he once sat next to Martin Amis during a lecture. He worked first as a newspaper reporter, then as a writer and editor in magazines, before becoming a freelance writer. His first novel was the acclaimed and bestselling WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY. He lives in Richmond upon Thames with his wife and two sons.
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