on 15 January 2001
Two stories into "Girls night in" and I was saying to myself "I really must lend this to Sarah, Penny, Michelle, Pam ...... (fill in blank) they will love it!". I tried limiting myself to 1 story per night so I could savour the enjoyment for longer, but couldn't put it down and ended up reading about 5 per night instead.
The stories contain the joy of female friendships, the disillusionment of heartbreak, the excitement of new love/lust and the sweet taste of revenge. Familiar themes to most of us, you will find yourself reading this and recognising large chunks of your own life between the pages.
My first instinct was to say that this book would really suit women from 25-45 but I actually think that it is a read for all the girls out there, whatever your age.
The saddest stories are poignant rather than teary, and overall it is light and would be perfect in-the-bath or lunchbreak reading.
I have been delighted by the humour and wit of these talented authors and heartily recommend this book.
on 7 July 2000
You only have to read a few "city girl" books before you realise they're all pretty similar, and unfortunately the same is true of the stories in this book. Most follow those tried and true formulae -- either (a) dowdy girl victimised by gorgeous but horrible school friend, who can't cope when dowdy girl gets a life and (b) woman in relationship with unsuitable man who breaks up with him and finds fulfilment, usually in the arms of another. Not to say there's anything wrong with that, but in a book of short stories the similarities become a hell of a lot more apparent. The best stories are the ones where the writer's tried to do something different -- Stella Duffy turns in her usual beautifully crafted prose, while Jenny Colgan's hapless snake fans made me laugh. And Marian Keyes weaves a brilliant yarn about an alien visiting earth (and I'm a sci-fi-phobe at the best of times). For those stories alone, it's worth buying .. especially if you're a fan of this kind of writing .. but be prepared to do a bit of page-turning.
on 5 July 2000
I bought this book because I love reading this type of female 'Bridget Jones' novels and all the top authors - from Lisa Jewell to Freya North have contributed.
I was a bit disappointed, I have to admit. On one hand, the whole idea of the book, to help a War Child, was obviously very sincere and touching. But that aside, the book is almost embarrassing as an illustration of the multitude of Bridget Jones copycat novels about.
I started off with Marian Keyes story, which is truly excellent. But then it went downhill. Ten stories later, I had reached a point where I was foaming at the mouth and thinking - if one more story starts off with a Bridget Jones heroine being dumped / waking up with hangover beside a bloke, all written in the same queasy girly self-deprecating style, with hip references to Agent Provacateur etc etc - I am going to scream. The stories merged into one Bridget JOnes blur until I found myself reading a story which I thought by Anna Maxted, then realised halfway through it was Adele Parks - or was it the other way round? Cathy Kelly's and Claire Calman, who also have distinctive styles, read like a Jane Green. In fact, if you weren't told which story was by which author, you'd never know who'd written which one and it just left me begging for something different and original. These writers need to be a bit more brave.
But - 3 gems stand out from the dross. Lisa Jewell's entry is up to her usual very classy cut-above-the-rest standard - told from a male point of view, simply, and written in her beautifully readable, perceptively observed style. Jenny Colgan's was also passable - a kooky story with some nice humour. Marian Keyes' entry, however, was the winner, standing out like a beacon of light and casting her as Queen of the Genre - a tale about love and an alien, it was zany, wierd, funny, touching - if you haven't read her novels, you're missing out, and this short story is another example of her unflagging brilliance. In general, the Irish entries were better - Patricia Scanlan and Sheila O'Flannigan also made worthy contributions. Also, the Amy Jenkins is a surprise because you read it thinking "Oh God, after Honeymoon, this will be so dire" but it was really rather sweet.
Maybe I've just read too many of these books! If you're sick of Bridget JOnes hanger-on novels, you will be very irritated. If you haven't read too many of those novels, you will enjoy it very, very much. And it goes to a good cause. Plus, the Marian Keyes story alone is so good, it's worth it (it's also very long so you can't just read it in a bookshop, you have to buy the damn thing!) Buy it for the good cause and at least know it's not just going to be spent on Krug and girly dinners...
on 17 July 2000
My copy of Girls' Night In is stationed right next to the bath - all the stories are exactly the right length for a good soak and very relaxing too. All right, so it's not exactly EM Forster, but there are some witty gems and the usual sprinkling of zingy one-liners you can reuse on your mates as necessary. Like a good bath, the best stories have a lingering effect after the initial froth washes off; Polly Samson's story is as delicately drawn as you'd expect, and Helen Simpson's 'Hurrah for the Hols' is a more adult exploration of womanhood and the responsibilities of being a mother. With 31 stories from 31 authors, there will be *something* here that you like, which, let's face it, makes it pretty good value.
on 24 October 2000
I must confess I only bought this book because it gave a percentage of it's cover price to charity. I don't usually like chick-lit and have only read a whole book of two of the featured authors, one of which I enjoyed, one I didn't. I found some of the stories very odd, some of them not very good at all and some of them wonderfully fantasic that have remained in my mind for some time post-reading!
I reccomend this book if you want an introduction to some of the popular female authors of the moment. If you're looking for insightful, meaty stories this is not for you.
on 5 July 2000
I was so pleased to find this book. I'm not usually a fan of short stories, but figured with all my favourite girlie authors crammed into one volume, I'd be in heaven ... I'm now halfway through this stereotyped collection of cardboard characters and doubt I'll finish the collection. Every one has been a let-down so far - and there are such basic errors in the continuity in places (example - story opens with 21 year old main character, halfway through she is described as mid-twenties) that it makes me wonder why the so-called editors are actually owning up. My advice would be to skip the girls night in and buy some of the wonderful novels that these writers have produced - it just doesn't do them justice.
on 19 July 2000
This book is a great idea. With this many top-selling contemporary female novelists it will sell by the shed-load and raise tons of cash for War Child which to my mind is the main point of this collection. Sorry to criticse some of my fellow reviewers but you cannot expect a book of this type to go through the same rigourous editing and re-writes you would expect from a regular novel; these writers donated their stories FOR FREE and all due credit to them for it. There's some absoloute corkers in it and I don't regret spending my 5.99 one bit. I'd rather have a 'girls night in' with the writers of this collection than any of its critics any day of the week. Marvellous.
on 10 November 2000
There are excellent stories to be found in this fat and frothy mixture. It's worth buying just for Marian Keyes, Jenny Colgan and Lisa Jewell (funny, touching), Clare Calman (perky),Polly Samson (haunting), Helen Simpson (so truthful), Rosalyn Chissick (spare,moving) and Amy Jenkins (surprisingly good!) If it's top writing you want, you'll find it here. The Samson and Simpson stories, especially, are as good as anything you'll find in any collection of literature. I enjoyed several of the sillier stories too!
on 11 June 2001
the sheer range of authors in this collection means that you're probably going to like some stories more than others, but there's more than enough here to warrant the price, which does include a pound to Warchild. Each one is just long enough to read in a bath and gives you a good flavour of the author's style. Some are out and out girly tales; some tackle girly issues but with an underlying challenge to Cosmo thinking, like Victoria Routledge's 'Shell of Venus', which questions whether a change of hair colour really can mend a broken heart. I loved Jessica Adams's story, set in the London Underground and Helen Simpson's evocative tale of holidays and children. OK, some stories are a bit garish, but on balance, this is a great idea, done well.
on 17 July 2000
Reading some of the stories, I guess four or five they were, I really got fed up with the whole compendium. They main tenor was so sad and the stories full of neurotic characters. Irritating for me were, that many stories were written from the "I" view, so meanwhile all those "I" characters are mixed up in my memory. I really can't say who is crying for what and why. BUT if you like Marian Keyes style, this is the book for you.