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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good fun, dreadful people
The town and country set have long needed a send-up, and Johnson is the ideal writer to take over from Jilly Cooper in this field. Mimi, the former chronicler of Notting Hell has sold up for a mere £2 million and moved to Home Farm, a chaotic Dorsetshire farmhouse which does not bear comparison with her friend Rose's immaculate one. Her children are not pleased (I...
Published on 18 Jun 2008 by A. Craig

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plus ça change ...
Mimi and Ralph Fleming have sold their house in Notting Hill and moved to Honeyborne in West Dorset. The population of that village is made up of a few people - gentry and lesser folk - who have lived there for ages and of a number of wealthy newcomers. The latter in particular bring with them all the competitive attempts at one-upmanship that characterized them in...
Published on 11 Sep 2008 by Ralph Blumenau


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plus ça change ..., 11 Sep 2008
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Shire Hell (Paperback)
Mimi and Ralph Fleming have sold their house in Notting Hill and moved to Honeyborne in West Dorset. The population of that village is made up of a few people - gentry and lesser folk - who have lived there for ages and of a number of wealthy newcomers. The latter in particular bring with them all the competitive attempts at one-upmanship that characterized them in Town; and Mimi, ever fashion-conscious, now has to learn what is fashionable in the countryside. There is a lot about horses and horsy women, and a nice extended set-piece description of a country house shooting party.

Rachel Johnson ploughs much the same furrow as she did in her previous novel, Notting Hell. If you were amused by the recounting of what is chic in Notting Hill, you will be amused by this novel also; but if, like me, you wearied a little of this relentlessly sustained theme by the time you came to the end of the former book (see my review), your heart may sink a little at more of the same here. In Notting Hell there were some hilarious situations which made me laugh; but in this book, though it has some intricate plotting, the comedy of manners is not matched - at least in my opinion - by comic situations. It seemed to me that the author was for long stretches somewhat on autopilot. As in the last book, we have alternating female narratives: one by Mimi and the other by Rose, the only companionable friend and confidant Mimi has been able to make in Honeyborne. The situations are similar also: in Notting Hell a wealthy American outraged the other residents of the garden square by erecting an intrusive `garage'; in Shire Hell a (somewhat) impoverished local landowner plans to erect a huge wind-turbine on a beautiful hill-top, for which he will collect a handsome sum from an electricity company. There are the same erotically-described infidelities, though in the countryside this is apparently so natural that it is not a subject for gossip and side-taking as it was in Notting Hill, and husbands have to put up with it because, apparently, divorce puts you out of the loop in the countryside. Clare, whose narrative had alternated with Mimi's in Notting Hell, makes her appearance and towards the end fruitfully ties the two books together. Just how fruitfully emerges at the very end; but, in between, Rachel Johnson inserts a sensational revelation which, contrary to the notion that in a village community everyone knows what everyone else has been up without that being a subject of gossip, does create a buzz.

Mimi is involved in one heart-felt situation, and in the end I did rather like her.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good fun, dreadful people, 18 Jun 2008
By 
A. Craig "Amanda Craig" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Shire Hell (Paperback)
The town and country set have long needed a send-up, and Johnson is the ideal writer to take over from Jilly Cooper in this field. Mimi, the former chronicler of Notting Hell has sold up for a mere £2 million and moved to Home Farm, a chaotic Dorsetshire farmhouse which does not bear comparison with her friend Rose's immaculate one. Her children are not pleased (I especially enjoyed her daughter's complaints on "gurl" about the dreariness of it all, which greatly resemble my own petal's moans)and the contrast between visiting fairs with knitted yoghurt and city slicker pursuits is wittily described.

But what appalling people! The lazy, hypochondriac Pierre, who carries a log around in order not to be asked to do anything by his enrage wife is one thing; the multimillionaire who describes himself as a "Jewray Henry" another. If these are the kind of snobs who set up their own literary festival and who smugly pat themselves on the back for having wind-farms then the guillotine can't come here too soon. I'm sorry the Johnson didn't turn her pen to the contrast between the real poverty in such areas and the kind of idiots who fret over the choice between Boden and Barbour. Less name-checks and more of the genuine venom of Notting Hell would have made it a stronger sequel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusement - 5; Plot 3, 25 Oct 2010
This review is from: Shire Hell (Paperback)
I enjoyed reading Shire Hell, although the plot wasn't strong enough to make it unputdownable. In fact, a third of the way through, I wondered if there was a plot, since it seemed to be largely a commentary on country life seen through eyes of Mimi and Rose.

However, this apparent lack of plot (there is one, it's just not signposted at the outset) was saved by rich and clever writing. I couldn't help but enjoy and admire Rachel Johnson's use of vocabulary, descriptions and witty observations; her description of an advert for a 'pack-away TV blanket' was hilarious.

I will definitely be reading more from this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good holiday read, 23 Aug 2010
By 
J. HOWARD - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shire Hell (Paperback)
An engaging, funny holiday read. I had not read the first book, Notting Hell, but I would reccomend reading that first to get to know the main characters.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shire giggles, 19 Jun 2008
This review is from: Shire Hell (Paperback)
I adore Rachel Johnson -she is a witty and intelligent writer. The characters are spot on and as a West London and Dorset home owner they made me weep and wince at times. This is the sort of book you want to read in a Diptyque candle lit bath or snuggle up under White Company fresh linen with a bar of Green and Blacks. A gorgeous girly indulgence. But I think the story loses the thread at times- expect brilliant characters but not an edge of your seat plot.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Notting Hell, 19 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Shire Hell (Kindle Edition)
I bought this book as I absolutely loved Notting Hell and was delighted to find a sequal. The style of writing is easy and fun but I must say that the plot this time around was a little disappointing. Not much substance or depth. Unfortunately this is often the case with sequals, the authors lose their originality.
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2.0 out of 5 stars tire shire, 7 July 2010
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L. Burtally "lori" (Kent, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shire Hell (Paperback)
I enjoyed Notting Hell but found this sequel quite boring and tedious to persevere with. Again predictable, and the story too played out. Whether i disliked this for what it is or because I'm not a country bumpkin and found it hard to relate to, i dont know. Not as good as Notting Hell by half.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Notting Hell, 17 Jun 2008
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Book Lover (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shire Hell (Paperback)
This one is not as good as Notting Hell. The cast of characters is a bit confusing and hard to keep straight. Notting Hell seemed more original and genuinely humorous than this sequel. It's enjoyable, but disappointing in many small ways.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sheer hell, 9 Nov 2008
By 
Love Books "Jessie" (Durham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shire Hell (Paperback)
Some people obviously like this book, and that's great, but I can't see why. It's little more than a string of designer label name-checks and two-dimensional posh characters who I couldn't care about or be interested in. It's really not for me.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shire Hello!, 28 May 2008
By 
Mrs. Sharon Connor (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shire Hell (Paperback)
Rachel Johnson's latest novel takes the reader out of the hell of London, to the calmer environment of Dorset. This slowing of pace of life reflects a slightly less frantic pace than might be recognised from 'Notting Hell', and works immensely well, allowing us to get to know the characters far better this time. And what a lot there is to know.There are the deeply delicious descriptions of the lifestyle indulgences of food/ property and designer shopping.Not that this is simply a lightweight, frivolous read, the social commentary and human interaction make this novel the best of Johnson so far.
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Shire Hell
Shire Hell by Rachel Johnson (Paperback - 7 July 2011)
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