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3.3 out of 5 stars28
3.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Harrison Hanafan is a plastic surgeon living in New York. On Christmas Eve he slips on the ice and is picked up and put into a cab by Mimi. Until recently, Harrison had spent several years with rich arts administrator and animal lover Gertrude and, without realising it, had become dissatisfied with his life. Mimi is large and brash, gregarious and self assured and she bursts into Harrison's existence and turns it upside down.

This then is a love story, but it is also more than that. It is life affirming and, in many ways, not just a feminist novel but a tale of the women in Harrison's life: not only Gertrude and Mimi, but his mother and his beloved sister, Bee. Like many truly funny books, it is also (and often) unbearably poignant - dealing with real issues of why women are so often uncomfortable with how they look, domestic violence and even the role of the media. Harrison is a man who aims to create physical perfection in his profession, but finds that love is accepting and non judgemental.

Much of this novel can be a little overwhelming and you feel swept along on a tide which almost resembles a rant. "The woman was unstoppable. She was glorious!" declares Harrison of Mimi. That really sums up the whole book - but if you relax and simply go along for the ride, you will find this a vibrant and entrancing story. There is much to enjoy and a lot to discuss - this would be wonderful for book groups and has made me want to go and explore more by this author.
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on 26 April 2013
I really 'got' Harrison. He was a fascinating neurotic New Yorker. The problem was that he was like a person you meet at a party, interesting and fun for about half an hour, then teeth clenchingly tedious when forced to spend all evening with him.

I agree with many of the other reviews, clever writing, but too many lists, too much neurosis and too much slagging off Canterbury! If the writer dislikes the UK so much I wonder why she sticks around here?? Of course she has every right to say what she thinks but it doesn't exactly endear herself to the British reading public! I did enjoy the feminist manifesto, always a good thing but why did it have to be a woman writing as man saying it to give it any credence. Why can't we (women) say it and be heard??
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a marvellously entertaining novel with sad, happy and poignant moments. It has a lot to say about the position of women in society today but it does it in such an amusing way and through some fantastic characters. The book is narrated by Harrison Hanafan, a New York cosmetic surgeon who is starting to be disillusioned by his work. On Christmas Eve when he is not looking forward to the holiday he falls on an icy sidewalk and sprains an ankle. He is rescued by Mimi, a middle-aged woman. They do not exchange contact details but Harry finds himself thinking about her more and more during his enforced idleness while his ankle recovers.

Mimi reappears in Harry's life when he decides he needs some coaching for a speech he has agreed to make on graduation day at his old school. They fall in love. This book is the story of what happens then and how Harry finds his life totally changed thanks to Mimi and a foundling cat called Bubbles - not to mention an unnamed duck. Most women are going to recognise so many aspects of modern life which work against women and I found myself agreeing so many times with Mimi's thoughts on the subject. I loved the extra sections at the end of the book which really need to be read after you have absorbed the story otherwise they won't make too much sense.

Yes the book does have a feminist `message' but it is mainly about life and people and love as well as loss and sadness and melancholy - Harry is keeping a list of melancholy things and it reappears at intervals through the book to punctuate the lighter moments. The ending of the book is absolutely priceless and needs to be read more than once to grasp all the nuances.

I really enjoyed reading this book and was sorry when I finished it. I can imagine it becoming popular with book clubs as it should promote lively discussions.
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VINE VOICEon 20 March 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thought that this book just started off so well. Mimi seemed such a fantastic character, although more spoken about than actually appearing. Harrison, with his neurotic lists and amusing comments was brilliantly funny,and made it one of those 'laugh out loud' novels that are so rare. It took the author six years to write this, apparently.
All is going well, until suddenly, it looks as though the author runs out of ideas. It appeared to me as though she introduced an unnecessary and jarringly dramatic death because she couldn't think of anywhere else to take the story. After this, it all seems to go downhill. Harrison's feminist comments become more bizarre, as do his actions, and then there is another, smaller dramatic incident which also seems a bit pointless. I'm really sorry that this book ended the way it did, because up until the middle, I was beginning to think that this was the most wonderful thing that I'd read for years.
The book ends with more lists, which I mostly skipped as they didn't help the book, and a manifesto for Harrison's feminist movement which had some good ideas to start with, but then tipped over into madness.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Lucy Ellmann's new novel 'Mimi' is a joy. The serendipitous meeting between
our titular heroine and Harrison Hanafan (a cosmetic surgeon with a moral
conscience) makes for one of the most enjoyable reads I've had in ages.

It's a full-bodied narrative about a full-bodied relationship. Larger-than-
life Mimi is a fast, furious and very funny creation; a perfect foil for poor
Harrison, in recovery from a previous ill-fated liaison with ghastly Gertrude.

With New York as a backdrop to their rumbustious alliance Ms Ellmann plays
with our heart strings and funny bones in equal measure. It's a story about art
and food and hot flushes and obsession and Aunt Phoebe's quilt and lust and
lists and love. "Real love is ferocious...It's the bee's knees...And you're no
longer solely responsible for the success or failure of your cocktail parties."

I have no argument with that. Life affirming stuff!

Highly Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 14 April 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really enjoyed this book. It's one of those rare books that I can't help but to laugh out loud at parts of it - not so great on the early morning commute, I certainly got some strange looks! It's funny, engaging and larger than life. I liked the characters and the storyline was great. Very well written and a good rollicking read!
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on 4 April 2014
Well! I'm not quite sure what to say, other than I pretty much loved this, and I have to reveal that I'm a Lucy Ellmann fan from long ago.
sI read Sweet Desserts whenever it first came out, and just lapped it up, and would give it 5 stars every time. And then was 'Varying Degrees of Hopelessness', another blinder! ***** all the way!

I did sort of lose the way after that I have to confess, but I did shudder when I saw Lucy Ellmann's name on a book in a bookshop the week after last. I grabbed the book and took it to the till as quick as I could: I was that excited!

Here's were the marmite comes in...or does it?

Is it really that difficult to understand that its likely that the world is about to implode because of MAN? We all know that that men have been in the supremacy for a long time - Bankers, Government, Energy. Those are probably the three main things.

This story is a bit of a fairy tale, a bit of what could be, if you just decided that we didn't need that s***!!

So, I loved it ... and I love marmite too.... ha,ha
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VINE VOICEon 11 February 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
At first I really disliked Harrison, the first person narrator of this quirky love story. He comes across as arrogant and self absorbed, and he works as a plastic surgeon.

Then he meets Mimi, several times, through a series of apparent coincidences. At first she seems crazy but they start to fall in love, then they have a terrible quarrel. Can Harrison sort himself out and persuade Mimi to listen to him? I really warmed to him though.

Romantic comedy? Yes, sort of. Chick lit? Not exactly, though it is hard to define what makes a novel chick lit or not. It doesn’t really conform to those genre conversions.

I enjoyed the quirky humour and the positive feminist message in this rather zany novel.
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VINE VOICEon 27 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What interested me initially about this book was that I believed it was going to be a love song to New York and, being interested in place and how it's handled in fiction, I wanted to see what Lucy Ellman would do with that. It isn't in fact about the place so much, but a love story between two New York residents. I hesitate to call them New Yorkers because Harrison Hanafan comes from elsewhere and indeed part of the story is about him having to make a speech at his old high school in his hometown of Virtue & Chewing Gum. What does contribute towards making the book partly about New York is the way in which some of the characters behave and how it seems inextricably tied up with the culture and lifestyle of the city they live in. When the book opens, Harrison is just as much party to this as anyone else. It's only when the noted plastic surgeon's life - and person - collides with someone who is very much doing her own thing that he's forced to take time out and reevaluate his own life - both what he wants from it and also what he wishes to contribute to it.

I liked Harrison Hanafan almost from the minute he started telling his New York story. It's fast-paced and loud and sometimes blaring, snarky and brash, grabbing you by the throat - much like the city of New York can be, I imagine. Harrison's a likeable character in that he doesn't have all the answers and is figuring it out as he goes along. I enjoyed reading his observations on life and relationships and work and everything else in between. And I liked that he can't seem to extricate himself from some of the people in his life, whether they're a clingy ex-girlfriend who still seems to think they're together or soon will be again or colleagues for whom he has little respect. One of the other things I liked about Harrison was how much he loves lists: lists of melancholy things; jams his Mum used to make; timings and suspected causes of his new girlfriend's hot flashes; wacky inventions from his childhood to the present day; listings in the yellow pages; and he even uses a list of sights and sounds and his observations from a drive to the pet store, to get food for an injured duck he sees near his holiday home, to plan the acts of an opera. Harrison starts new relationships, one with a cat who adopts him and another with a woman who's a force of nature and breezes into his life with her strongly-voiced but interesting opinions. Mimi's opinions and thoughts are so interesting to Harrison that they force him to reconsider how he feels about his job as a plastic surgeon and the people coming to him for help. And then there's another important woman in his life which is his older sister, a sculptor living in Canterbury, England, who's his sounding board for most things in life.

I found this such an interesting novel of ideas and enjoyed the pace of it. Even when the characters were having some downtime, I still felt pulled forward at a frenetic pace and compelled to turn the page again and again, reading late into the night. I'm certainly going to read more of Lucy Ellman's books now that I've discovered her with this one.
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on 29 April 2013
I enthusiastically bought this book expecting a refreshing take on a New York love story...My bad!
This book is an accumulation of inane ramblings that are at worst incoherent and at best mildly amusing. The problem is...I wasn't amused for long...I was bored,fell asleep and gave up at the ghost after "New Years Eve".
Sorry... I just don't get it.
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