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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary women's fiction at its best
This is the story of Dido and Georgia, friends since they met at college. They even married chaps who were also friends at college and, since then, have shared so many things, holidays, family events and most of all, a shared love of literature. Indeed, the book opens with Dido and Georgia leaving the Hay on Wye Literary Festival, each returning home, Dido to York and...
Published on 23 Aug. 2007 by Mrs. M. G. Powling

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gone a bit chick-lit
... and it's not only the cover. Sue Gee's great gift is to hook her readers and keep them engrossed, but to my mind this doesn't match THE HOURS OF THE NIGHT, her masterpiece.

Unlike that novel, with its wonderfully evoked rural setting, this all feels a bit smugly middle-class and monocultural. Everyone's got a Problem, and this results in some irritating...
Published on 14 Dec. 2007 by Listener


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gone a bit chick-lit, 14 Dec. 2007
This review is from: Reading in Bed (Hardcover)
... and it's not only the cover. Sue Gee's great gift is to hook her readers and keep them engrossed, but to my mind this doesn't match THE HOURS OF THE NIGHT, her masterpiece.

Unlike that novel, with its wonderfully evoked rural setting, this all feels a bit smugly middle-class and monocultural. Everyone's got a Problem, and this results in some irritating viewpoint-hopping - for example a brief one-off excursion into the head of Paula, Dido's aloof daughter-in-law. The outcomes of Chloe's relationships - disastrous and then successful - are clearly signalled from afar.

Also, there are some annoying new mannerisms - too liberal a sprinkling of brackets, frequent invitations to the reader to guess who made a particular remark, and even direct author interventions: 'I'm crying now, just writing about it.' Worse - especially with literate and literary women as her viewpoint characters - Sue Gee uses far too many cliches for a writer of her calibre: "good as gold", "dead as a doornail", "sobbed her heart out", all in the first chapter.

Having said all this, I was engrossed, and it did indeed keep me reading in bed far past the time when I should have got up. But if this were the first I'd read of Sue Gee, I'm not sure I'd go on to the others.

THE HOURS OF THE NIGHT is a fine novel, and one I'd recommend to anyone. This one seems intent on categorising itself as lightweight women's fiction. I hope Sue Gee will return to form with her next novel - and yes, I shall read it.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary women's fiction at its best, 23 Aug. 2007
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This review is from: Reading in Bed (Hardcover)
This is the story of Dido and Georgia, friends since they met at college. They even married chaps who were also friends at college and, since then, have shared so many things, holidays, family events and most of all, a shared love of literature. Indeed, the book opens with Dido and Georgia leaving the Hay on Wye Literary Festival, each returning home, Dido to York and Henry and Georgia to London and, since widowhood the previous year, an empty house. And all the while, literature creeps into the narrative, from Katharine Whitehorn's Cooking in a Bedsitter to the Russian writers, in particular The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky.
As the story unfolds, we meet Chloe, Georgia's daughter who is longing to find someone who will love her, and Mad Maud, Henry's elderly cousin, sliding into dementia and living on her Sussex farm which, whilst the narrator likens it to the Larkins' farm in The Darling Buds of May, has more than a passing resemblance to Cold Comfort Farm. And then, in Yorkshire, Dido and Jeffrey have their own formidable problems to overcome.
Some readers mightn't care for the without-quotation-marks speech, where a single dash indicates speech; others, and I include myself here, will find it refreshing.
If this novel were a meal, it would be a sustaining casserole, not a quick fix pot noodle. It is rich and satisfying, and a story which will remain with me for a very long time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Reading In Bed, 20 May 2008
This review is from: Reading in Bed (Paperback)
This was an OK read, but fairly predictable and not a patch on The Hours of The Night. I do have to agree with some of the other reviews - firstly, the middle class stereotypes are getting a bit wearing and secondly, the writing style is becoming quite smug. I found the lack of speech marks particularly distracting and I don't really see how the book got such rave reviews.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The educated middle class life, 2 Jun. 2008
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Reading in Bed (Paperback)
Georgia and Henry, Dido and Jeffrey have been friends since University. Now Georgia is a widow and Dido and Jeffrey are encountering problems which are likely to test their relationship to its limits. What goes unsaid in this story is as potent as those things which are discussed openly. Georgia is trying to rebuild her life but is not sure exactly how to do it and daughter Chloe is causing her some anxiety. All characters are carefully and convincingly drawn. People have principles and find them at odds with things which are happening in their lives. Georgia's late husband's cousin is on the point of dementia and Georgia must deal with the situation even though Maud is no relation of hers, forcing her to confront her own fears about living alone.

I enjoyed the book, but found the layout - a dash to introduce dialogue - irritating and confusing as I had to go back and re-read some sections to see which was speech and which was narrative. I found I did care about the characters even though occasionally I wanted to shake Georgia because she kept expecting Henry to return to her. Apart from these comparatively minor issues I found the book worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple Pleasures, 4 Sept. 2011
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Reading in Bed (Paperback)
Gee is in top form in this story, which celebrates literature, friendship and love, and deals bravely with bereavement, dementia and the difficulties of finding out what you really want in life once you've reached 30. Dido and Georgia are two literature-loving friends, who've known each other since their student days. Now Georgia has tragically lost her beloved husband Henry to cancer and has to forge a life alone in her sixties, while Dido has to face up to the fact that her university-lecturer husband has committed a professional misdemeanour, and an unexpected and painful illness of her own. Meanwhile Georgia's daughter Chloe, a stylist who has fought acute dyslexia to have a good career, is longing for marriage and motherhood, and Georgia's crazy cousin-by-marriage Maud is descending into dementia, requiring someone to care for her.

This is a beautifully-written novel, with wonderfully believable characters and situations. I particularly liked the way Gee celebrates literature and its power in our lives, and also the joy of having animals - Georgia is kept going in widowhood by the presence of her two handsome Abyssinian cats. Gee also writes very movingly on bereavement (very impressive indeed, particularly considering that she became a widow herself while writing this book). Georgia's belief that her husband will be 'returned to her' is heartbreakingly convincing, and her struggles to keep going and enjoy life enormously admirable. Chloe's desire for a cosy family life, and her feeling that she was never quite the 'right' daughter for her mother due to her dyslexia are also very sensitively handled. I'm sure I wasn't the only reader who gave a cheer when she eventually gave up on her tedious boyfried Jez and found the right man, most unexpectedly. The story of Dido and her husband Jeffrey, and how they cope with the changes in their married life was also very well written. And the account of Georgia and Chloe dealing with the crazy but not altogether unsympathetic old Maud will strike a chord of sympathy with many people who've had to deal with unstable elderly relatives!

There are a few things in 'Reading in Bed' that may mildly irritate. Chloe's speech patterns (full of phrases such as 'I'm, like, really knackered', or 'it's, like, popular culture') may annoy at times - and would the daughter of such well-spoken people as Georgia and her husband Henry really have talked like that? Her relationship with Jez drags on rather, as well, as does the account of Maud's decline into senility.

But this being said, I'd still give the novel five stars - such beautiful and truthful writing coupled with good storytelling doesn't come along all that often.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Examining the messiness of our daily lives, 5 Sept. 2010
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This review is from: Reading in Bed (Paperback)
Georgia and Dido have been best of friends since their university days. Together they have celebrated in each other's joys and helped the other through low points in their lives. They have never had any trouble confiding in each other. But things may be about to change. While, on the surface, it seems that everything is as it always has been, they are starting to withhold information from one another; something they have never done before. Georgia is grieving for her husband and trying her best to keep on going. Never one to moan about the hand that life has dealt her, she is soldiering on alone and dealing, one way or another, with her newfound loneliness. Dido is too busy with her own personal problems to take much notice. She and her husband Jeffrey, a couple who seem to be gliding towards a long and happy retirement together, are in reality about to face a series of challenges which will test their marriage to its very limits.

This is the first of Sue Gee's novels that I have read. I picked it up at the airport, read the first couple of pages and was hooked. She has an incredible skill for realistic dialogue and the life-long friendship between the two women was completely credible for me. Equally, I found it fascinating to look at the evolution of this close friendship and examine some of the taboos between these two women. I think one of the strengths of the novel was that the darker issues dealt with were the sort of things that many of us will have to confront in our own lives - bereavement, loneliness, infidelity, health worries etc. It really was a slice of life. Each of these was dealt with sensitively and very naturally and, to the author's credit, it never seemed that they were being included to 'up the ante.' Instead it was simply an opportunity to look at the issues that affect many of us at some point in our lives.

There were just a couple of issues that stopped me giving the novel a higher score: I found the author's voice intrusive at a couple of points. I suppose because I believed in the characters so much I didn't then want to be reminded that this was simply a work of fiction and this is what happened when the author interrupted the flow of the narrative. Additionally, I felt slightly cheated at the end of the novel when the messy lives of two of the younger, minor characters are neatly sewn up. This felt a little contrived to me. It's true that some readers may have felt that the subject matter could have been too bleak overall without this but then sometimes life can be bleak and a novel like this shouldn't gloss over this in the end.

Having said all that, the resolution of the sub-plot involving the cantakerous, elderly distant relative was brilliant told. And I don't mind admitting that I had a little cry when I got to the end of that story. Some other reviewers have mentioned that this is not one of Sue Gee's best novels. Despite the reservations I had about this one, I'll definitely be looking out for her others. There may have been one or two quirks of her writing style, which in my personal opinion, detracted a little from this but it seems to me that there just aren't many authors of this high a caliber out there. Definitely well worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What happens after happily-ever-after..., 15 Sept. 2011
By 
Cherry Radford (Brighton, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Reading in Bed (Paperback)
Ignore the cover, this is NOT a cute book. It's a thought provoking look at what happens after marital happily-ever-after. The sixty-year-old friends have to deal with a full range of uncomfortable issues: bereavement (not since Penelope Lively's 'Perfect Happiness' have I read such heart-rendingly beautiful treatment), serious illness, betrayal, an ageing relative, worrying adult offspring and the emptiness of retirement. At times, it's pretty bleak - making me wish there were a handbrake I could apply to the passage of years - but the honesty of the writing and the moments of humour pulled me through. And I cared desperately for these rounded characters - perhaps why I readily accepted the rather whimsical culmination to one of their journeys (we deserved it!).

Like other reviewers, I didn't care for the dash replacing speech marks, or some of the more obvious author 'intrusions' into the story. But these are minor carps; I really LOVED this novel - and having the same love of literature that's so enjoyably described for the two ladies in the book, I'm very excited to have found a new author to follow!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautifully layered, wonderful book, 18 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Reading in Bed (Paperback)
Wow! This is the second of Sue Gee's books which I have read and it was just magnificent. It starts with 2 ladies in their 60's returning from a book festival . Dido and Georgia have been friends with each other and their respective spouses since University. The book details the lives of the friends and how life can never be predicted. The story of the couples deals with so many themes; retirement, families, love, loss, widowhood, illness, betrayal, infidelity but at the heart is the simple things in life; friendship, literature, love of reading and quietude. I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful novel; the prose just flows and casts a spell over the reader.

I genuinely felt so sad to have finished this novel. The characters will long stay with me. It was simply a joy to read. Highly recommend .
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another lovely book from Sue Gee!, 30 July 2007
This review is from: Reading in Bed (Hardcover)
Sue Gee is one of my favourite writers and I have thoroughly enjoyed her new novel READING IN BED. She writes with subtlety and a rare compassion for her characters and is adroit when it comes to making the reader care what happens to them and ache with sympathy for their problems. I won't put any plot spoilers here, but one of the most poignant lines in the book is where a middle aged man is described as 'blushing to the roots of his thinning hair'.) A brilliant novel. Thank you, Sue Gee!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable if slightly cliched., 10 May 2008
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I am a Sue Gee fan, but having said that, I sometimes tire of the stereotypical characters - not only in her novels but many of those portraying the educated middle classes. Think Penelope Lively, Susan Hill and even Ian McKewan. It would be so refreshing to have them eating baked beans or a burger and chips now and then, instead of wholesome soup, cheese and rustic bread! Similarly, the choice of names- how many Didos, Georgias and Jezs do you know? Many sixty year olds tend to be called Sue or Maureen, or Jean or Patricia.

These are details - but they do irritate at times. It is as if the writer chooses every facet of an educated middle-class lifestyle- Radio 4, the Archers, the Hay Festival, cottages in the Lakes, good universities, and piles them on, and on. Now and then, it would be nice to have a slightly more quirky middle class character!

However, Gee writes well. Sometimes her two-word sentences have terrific impact. She is excellent at conveying emotions with few words. There is a carefully observed portrayal of mother-daughter relationships, of young love and love in late middle age.
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Reading in Bed
Reading in Bed by Sue Gee (Paperback - 1 May 2008)
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