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on 15 November 2001
This was a fantastic read. It's split into 4 different voices as a family (2 children, 2 parents) suffer a divorce. It's touching, poignant and at times funny...
But, as other amazon reviewers have noted, why on earth does it have a silly Chick Lit cover on the front? I had to make it point because as a result I was putting off buying this book for months until someone forced it onto me. I think it is a shame as publishers seem to do this more and more - wrapping an intelligent read by a female in a trashy cover, and I think it loses readers rather than gaining them! I would put Claire Calman in the ranks of other fine female writers such as Polly Sampson and Maggie O'Farrell for her insight and sensitivity...I look forward to more from Claire Calman.
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on 27 November 2001
I adored Love is a Four-Letter Word, so I was predisposed to enjoy Lessons for a Sunday Father. I was not disappointed. Calman is capable of making her readers laugh and cry simultaneously -- a rare talent.
As another reviewer mentioned, Rosie is a delight. But all the characters are so real that you can believe you know them and what they're going through.
I'm looking forward to Calman's next effort; I can only hope that she can continue to work her magic.
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on 22 February 2001
I found the jacket design of Claire Calman's "Lessons for a Sunday Father" rather misleading. It's much less of a fantasy love story than her excellent "Love is a Four Letter Word" which had a similar cover. This new novel is more nitty-gritty throughout. The rush of all kinds of emotions in the splitting marriage is full of the humour and sexiness of her first book but digs deeper, hurts more and feels true. The nine-year old Rosie is an unforgettable commentator from first to last. I loved it all.
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on 16 January 2001
So many novels aimed at a twenty-something readership don't aspire to be much more than brain chewing-gum for the train to work, but like Claire Calman's first novel (Love is a Four Letter Word), Lessons for a Sunday Father explores the painful edges of a collapsing family with humour and dignity. The break-up of Scott and Gail's marriage isn't clear-cut - she is dissatisfied with the relationship long before he commits the almost coincidental adultery, he is too comfortable to question her early rattiness - but the full story only emerges gradually as the four different narratives develop. Children's voices are hard to make convincing, yet Claire Calman makes Nat and Rosie's styles as distinctive and important as their parents, and it's in the subtle reflections of what each character does and says in the eyes of the others that the real depth of the book emerges. It would be easy to slap on a happy ending, and after becoming completely immersed in the characters, I was hoping that the ends wouldn't be tied up too neatly, but the conclusion is exactly the sort of warm compromise that is the best you can wish for in real life. And aside from the stylish writing and gentle wit, I found it really refreshing to read a novel where the sex isn't well-lit, champagne-fuelled and consequence-free and the hero is a glazier, rather than a futures trader.
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on 1 March 2001
What an excellent read. This book takes the perspective of 4 characters involved in a marriage break-up, the father, the mother and the 2 children. What an excellent idea! This mean we can see how the break-up affects everyone and how people's actions can be misinterpreted by others. I would thoroughly recommend this book even if you didn;t like "Love is a Four Letter Word". This is sexy, funny and just a little bit good!!!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 November 2015
Scott and Gail have been together for more than a decade, and have a teenage son, Nat, and an adorable little daughter, Rosie. Their life is routine but fairly pleasant. So when Scott, on a whim, has a one-off affair, and Gail finds out and chucks him out, it all comes as a terrible surprise. Scott hopes that Gail will relent fairly soon, but instead, he and she both find themselves realizing quite how wrong the marriage was; and Scott finds himself becoming a 'Sunday father', taking the kids out for treats at weekends, and after a few weeks on friends' sofas renting his own flat, and trying to rebuild his life. Meanwhile Gail has to decide whether she wants to enter the world of 'dating', and Nat and Rosie have to get used to their parents as individuals rather than a unit.

There are so many judgmental articles around about divorce (as in Anne Atkins's appalling columns for the Daily Mail, and others) that it is a relief to find a writer like Calman who writes about it with clear-sighted intelligence. Calman makes it very clear in this novel that neither Scott nor Gail are 'bad' and that Scott's one-night stand isn't the real reason for the split; they are simply an ill-matched couple, who gradually realize that they are making each other unhappy (the scene where they briefly think they might give it another go is very moving). Calman is also good at charting the children's reactions: Rosie gradually accepting what's going on, Nat initially resigned, and later (particularly when his Dad begins dating) more and more unhappy and nervous about the future. In many ways this is a moving and thoughtful novel.

But - I felt it had one massive problem. Calman (herself from a 'artsy' background - her father was the artist Mel Calman) has tried to create characters who will appeal to absolutely everyone. The result is four main characters who are in fact rather bland and boring as people. Scott enjoys his job as a builder and handyman, beer, chips and sex - but otherwise appears to have virtually no interests. Gail's topics of conversation are principally her children, clothes and make-up. Rosie is a miniature equivalent, while Nat is the equivalent of his Dad apart from the fact that computers take precedence over girls for him. In the end, I couldn't find any of the characters that interesting or easy to empathize with - Calman had tried to make each of them so 'universal' that they had very little personality. So, while I was very interested in their situation, I couldn't summon up much interest in them as people. I also felt the book ended up a bit longer than was needed - and there was rather too much heavy handed humour (such as Scott's allergy to his real Christian name, 'Dennis', and the scenes involving Scott's boss's wicked son).

A great topic, which I felt was intelligently handled, but with two-dimensional characters. Calman's third novel, 'I Like It Like That', in which the characters were very vivid individuals, was much more enjoyable for me.
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on 12 February 2001
The author does a great job of showing four different points of view of a more and more common domestic scenario i.e. the breakdown of a marriage.The story is convincingly told by the whole family-the husband,the wife,the teenage son and the younger daughter.Another element of the story is the issues concerning the husband and his role as a father and a son.The story is realistic and the focus is on the every-day rather than a deep psychological study. Thoroughly entertaining, definitely worth a read.
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on 15 February 2001
It's not often you find a book that makes you laugh a lot, cry a litte, and rings true as well. I enjoyed every minute of Claire Calman's "Lessons for a Sunday Father". At first I thought Scott, the husband, deserved everything he got but gradually I saw a more rounded picture through the voices of his (very entertaining) kids and upset wife - he is revealed as an inarticulate but loveable man who very nearly loses everything precious to him.
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on 8 February 2001
An incredible book: makes you laugh at times, and cry at others. Calman hits the nail on the head about a lot of issues faced by fathers, and makes one think a lot about how good a father you really are.
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