9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2006
Liz and Nirpal seem like opposites. They are, in many ways, but the glue that keeps them together is that they need each other.
Liz is a former anorexic fashionista who adores her cats. She's a vegetarian. Her anal-retentive tendencies (to which she fully admits) grate after a while, as do the obsessive details about beauty products used/ bedlinen bought etc. But it's essential to help you get a feel for her character. But contrary to how other readers have described her in other reviews, she doesn't come across as "mad". A bit eccentric, perhaps, but her kind heart and longing for love are every bit as normal and ordinary as those of any woman, and that's what so many people who read her column can relate to.
Moving on to The Husband, I had expected to resent Nirpal, based on an interview he did about being "the most hated guy in the UK" and on other stuff he's written (and also on comments about him on British Asian websites).
Instead, I found a very complex rendering of a very real man. He loves his wife, but feels trapped in marriage. He can be callous to her emotional needs (he seems to despise anything sentimental, having had a tough upbringing). But he's also gentle to her cats, inconsolable when his friend dies, etc.
They are both flawed people who, somehow, need each other. Their relationship seems like fiction, but the dynamics are so human.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book. And, at the risk of sounding like Jerry Springer's Final Word I wish both of them the best of luck in the choices they end up making.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I never thought that the intimate minutiae of someone else's relationship could be so addictively page turning. I received this from Amazon two days ago and cannot put it down. On some pages I am on her side- he is exasperating and thick skinned and seems to think marriage is simply an upgrade in accommodation. On the next page, I can see his point- she is uptight and obsessively tidy with the rigidity of rules and laws that are often unique to those who have been accustomed to their own space for many years. She brings the definition of high maintenance to its kness and invents new levels of it. She is frustrated when he fails to read her complex unspoken list of wants.
However, what is inescapably likeable about Liz Jones is that she is searingly honest and innately herself with every word- albeit it an occcasionally whiny, insecure self. She does not try to be anyone else and produces some artlessly laugh out loud dialogue. For all her experience and her media savvy career, there is a touching naivite about this woman who has only had four boyfriends in her life before her husband. Her gratitude is palpable.
Sometimes you feel like shouting at her but at the same time, you can't help liking a woman who treats her cats like royalty and isn't afraid to say that she cries or that she feels silly.
I highly recommend this as an intriguing read that feels like a long phone call with a friend, that will regularly change your opinions moment by moment.
I ended up liking both parties, and the four cats.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 17 September 2005
If you love Liz Jones's column that appears in YOU magazine with the Mail on Sunday, then you can't miss this book, which charts how journalist Liz Jones met her husband and the ups and downs of their married life. There are some great laugh out loud moments, but bearing in mind the characters are all real, sometimes it just seems very sad. Once you've finished the book, you'll feel like you know Liz, Nirpal (and the cats!) and care very much about what happens next...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I don't really know how funny this book is meant to be. This is taken from the column that Jones' writes, chronicling her own life, and is intensely personal. The fact that she is so needy, so anal, and so enmeshed in a tragically horrible marriage is all kind of horrible, and yet, you find yourself laughing aloud a lot of the time, and I'm not really sure why. This is a bit like what would happen if Bridget Jones were real, and really did marry Mark Darcy, rather than the fairy tale ending the book allows her. This is a human soul laid bare, and it is both tragic and totally hilarious.
In 2000, Liz Jones, then Editor of Marie Claire, met Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal, a BBC trainee journalist who came to interview her. She was heading towards 40, recovering from two bad relationships (with 'Mad Richard' and with Trevor, a laid-back musician) and an unrequited crush on a man called Kevin (she calls him 'The Man I am in Love with', though in her descriptions he sounds a bit of a twit). He was 26, uncertain whether to keep going at the BBC or try to make it as a writer, full of creative ideas but with little money. He made it clear he found Jones irresistible, they began dating, and Jones invited him to join her on a 'freebie' break to Jamaica, where she was writing a piece on Ian Fleming's house. While away, Jones read the opening of Dhaliwal's first novel, and impulsively suggested that he move in with her and give up his job, letting her support him as a full-time writer.
This was not on balance a brilliant move. It made Dhaliwal almost wholly dependent on Jones, and he also found (like many writers) that being given the freedom to 'just write' was creatively inhibiting - he'd have done better, maybe, to keep the day job and write the novel in the evenings, as so many first-time writers do. It also created all sorts of expectations in the relationship - as Dhaliwal was at home all day, Jones (almost inevitably) expected him to do quite a lot of domestica, and resented it enormously when he started behaving like a 'kept man' and doing very little. Nevertheless, the couple felt that their feelings for each other were strong enough to keep them together - and even, after a couple of years, for Dhaliwal to propose marriage... This volume, a series of diary extracts (presumably edited versions of the Liz Jones weekly column) charts their relationship from their first meeting through their stormy first couple of years, their marriage (at Babington House, THE place to get married) and their first two years of married life, as these very different people - she a fashionista, former anorexic and control freak, he a laid-back studenty-type with some growing up still to do - struggle to find a peaceful way to live together.
The chronicle of a difficult marriage could be a very depressing read. But in fact, 'How One Single Girl Got Married' is not that depressing at all. Admittedly, Jones goes too far in her withering descriptions of people. Did we really need to be told about Dhaliwal's 'windiness', have his weight repeatedly listed, or learn that Jones interrupted her best male friend one night as 'he was steaming open his pores'? (This friendship has since severely lapsed.) And some of the couple's later rows make rather depressing reading. But there's also a great deal of tenderness and humour in the book. At this stage in her life Liz Jones still had quite a lot of self-irony, and she writes rather amusingly about her OCD tendencies: her obsession with hosing the wheelie-bin, her strict rules for how her cats should be treated, her dread of virtually all foods (no meat, fish, mushrooms, tomatoes except cherry ones, spiky bits, peppers...) and her greed for designer clothes and furniture. Nirpal Dhaliwal also, despite the disparaging comments about his weight (he actually looks rather handsome in photos!), is portrayed with surprising sympathy. Indeed, for a lot of the memoir he comes across as the sweeter of the two - a genuinely nice, gentle man, devoted to his cats, struggling to cope with Liz's excessive demands, trying to wean her off fashion and more onto culture and politics and rather bemused at the odd situation he's found himself in. So the book is not totally unfair, or indeed told totally from Liz's perspective. And despite the worsening of the couple's situation as the marriage continues, there's something very poignant in how both of them struggle to keep things going: by getting married, by planning to adopt a baby, by planning a new home and buying two more cats. Even if we sense the relationship might be doomed, we can still applaud Liz and Nirpal for trying to stick together.
Apart from this, the book can be genuinely very, very funny. I loved the scene where Jones decided that all their wedding gifts 'had to come' from the Conran shop, and Dhaliwal had no idea what the Conran shop sold ('what about that new biography of Anthony Blunt?'). And the incident with the designer cream oven glove ('What use is this unless you have one ******* arm?) made me almost weep with laughter. There's even a black comedy to some of Jones's increasing complaints ('He says 'Can you do it Lizzie' about EVERYTHING!') about her husband, and to her increasing research on how to tackle her problems (I can't believe there's a book called 'On the Wellbeing and Feeding of Husbands'!). The scenes with the cats - Snoopy ('he's like a son to me', declares Nirpal at one point), Squeaky, Susie and Sweetie - are incredibly loving and touching. And there's also some great book recommendations - whatever else, Liz Jones seems to have been a keen and intelligent reader of fiction at this point in her life.
Although I found myself getting a little infuriated with both Liz and Nirpal (oddly, more with Liz) as I read on for not making the effort to make more compromises in their relationship, I found this an oddly addictive, often hilarious and very touching read. I just wish that it hadn't ended so bitterly for the two of them.
Vivid writing that makes me understand why Jones has so many fans. Good downtime reading providing you also have something a bit more cheerful on the go.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2010
As a story, I was fascinated by it as one might be fascinated by a car crash. How Liz and Nirpal even stayed together for as long as they did is amazing. Most of the time I wanted to slap him, but some of the time I wondered why on earth she put up with it. The star I have deducted is for a reason that may seem petty, but it jarred me while I was reading it - the bad grammar. I lost count of the times she'd say she was "sat at the desk" or "stood at the window"; and basic errors like "my husband and me went on holiday". As a journalist, this woman should know better.