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Whatever Makes You Happy Paperback – 4 May 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (4 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747596522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747596523
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 396,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Everyone in my family, from my teenaged daughter to my husband and mother-in-law, has got something out of it besides laughter' Amanda Craig, Independent 'Very funny A convincing, moving portrait of an evolving relationship between mother and adult son' Guardian 'Brilliantly observed, howlingly funny and, if you have a son, all too recognisable' Woman and Home 'A moving meditation on miscommunications between sexes, across generations and over dinner tables' Financial Times

About the Author

William Sutcliffe is the author of four previous novels, New Boy, Are You Experienced?, The Love Hexagon and Bad Influence, which have been translated into twenty languages.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Quicksilver TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'Whatever Makes You Happy' is an insightful look at the relationship between mothers and their sons. It is accurate, moving and above all, very funny.

There seems to be very little publisher promotion for this book, which considering the subject matter and how easy it is to read, I find surprising. It is a book, begging to be pushed into the topseller list, with a potentially huge audience. I think 'WMYH' is ideal holiday reading, for both mothers and their offspring. (Although possibly not if you are all holidaying together.) Wives will probably enjoy it too!

Some of the reviews here bemoan the lack of originality of the characters. For me, these reviews rather miss the point. The three men in the story are supposed to represent as much of 'man'kind as possible. This novel is not really about the characters, it's about their maternal relationships. Sutcliffe vividly portrays how thirty-something males feel about their mothers, but this for him would have been the easy bit. More remarkable is how accurately he describes the maternal conflict of wanting your son to be free, whilst still feeling you know what's best for him.

This is a brilliantly observed, witty and sensitive novel. I think any son who reads 'WHYH' will view their mother through fresh eyes, and will hopefully understand them a little bit better. As a final recommendation, I intend on purchasing copies for every man I know with a mother, and every mother I know with a son, starting with my own.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Craig HALL OF FAME on 8 May 2008
Format: Paperback
There are so many bad comic novels out on the shelves that a really good one deserves flagging up. This has the simplest of ideas - three unmarried men in their thirties have mothers who are all friends. Discussing their sons, and agreeing that something has gone wrong with their lives, they descend for one week to sort them out.

One son works on a lad mag called BALLS, obsessed with women's breasts and designer gadgets, and is living the life of an urban bachelor. His horrified mother discovers not just dust but kinky S&M gear under his bed, and not only sets about to cleaning the shag-pad but crashes a launch party of a new aftershave and tries to set him up with a nice girl instead of a teenager....Another son hasn't yet come out to his mum, and lives in a gay commune where he is outed within minutes....The third has moved to Edinburgh to try and get over Erin, the love of his life whom he lost by not wanting children. Yet the mothers all have some growing up of thier own to do, and it's in depicting them with sympathy and warmth that Sutcliffe's novel rises above the hilarity of his early work. He seems to understand much more than the preoccupations of his generation, and in consequence women in their fifties and sixties will I think get as many laughs and sighs of recognition as those of us with young sons.

I began reading this in a foul mood, with rain lashing down etc etc and by the first chapter it felt as if the sun had come out. Although it's mostly dialogue, the passages of descriptive writing are excellent, and the ending perfectly judged. It would make a lovely film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. J. Noyes TOP 100 REVIEWER on 28 May 2015
Format: Paperback
I have read several William Sutcliffe books, including the wonderful children's title 'The Wall'.This is a much lighter story, a comedic family story of mothers and sons.

Three sons, all very different, are all romantically not as successful as their mothers would expect from grown men in their thirties. They decide to descend on them simultaneously and stay for a week, and see what a mother's touch and little nudge may be able to achieve...

Listening to the audiobook, I didn't immediately pick up on the fact that three different mums were dropping in on three different sons, one lovelorn, one playboy, one gay. Once I did it did not take long to distinguish the different relationships, names and stories.

There are some very funny scenes as mothers try to get to grips with their sons' modern lives, there are blind dates and tampering, and some quite moving mother-son time.

Unfortunately, the audiobook is narrated by a woman, and the flaw in this was that each male had a really Cockney 'wide boy' sound to them that I couldn't distinguish and which really annoyed.

Quite a light read, but a nice touch from the author with mothers and sons.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was at primary school with William Sutcliffe, and his mum worked with my mum, but we were never close friends and lost touch altogether when we went to senior school. I'd not thought about him for years until I came across two of his books - New Boy and Are You Experienced? - in a charity shop. I bought them but still haven't got round to reading them - grr - but did get this one for my Kindle and read it on holiday. (I was also thrilled to discover that he is married to Maggie O'Farrell, who is one of my favourite authors!)

It's a funny little book, which actually made me literally LOL a few times, which very rarely happens. It's about three guys - Matt, Paul and Daniel - who have reached their mid thirties without settling down. Their mothers, who all met through a book group when their boys were young- decide they need to intervene. They feel they don't really know their sons as adults, they've lost touch with them and the way to get their relationships back on track is just to arrive for a surprise visit and stay for a week!

Now I have always been close to my mum but I know lots of men who would find this a disturbing state of affairs, so reading about how Paul, Daniel and Matt deal with it was amusing.

The book switches characters regularly, from each of the women to each of the men, and while I didn't quite feel the individual characters' voices coming through clearly I did get an idea of their personalities. However, I'm not really sure who this book is aimed at - women in their sixties (like the women in the book), men, women my age? Wasn't really clear. I also felt the ending was very rushed - I was just settling in with the characters when the women returned home. Glad there was an ending of sorts but I would have liked to explore the individuals a little bit more.

that said, I did enjoy it and there were a fair few guffaw moments. It has also encouraged me to work my way through William Sutcliffe's back catalogue!
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