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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2013
I admit here and now that I owe Jane Wenham-Jones a huge debt. It was reading her book "Wannabe a Writer?" that finally persuaded me to give writing a go after years of believing that I couldn't do it any more and I will always be grateful to her for that. Even if nothing ever comes of it, I have enjoyed myself so much over the last couple of years that I would heartily recommend her book and its follow-up "Wannabe a Writer We've Heard Of?" to anyone.
Having said that, I hadn't read any of her novels in spite of meaning to for ages. When I saw that this novel was one of the ones nominated for an award from the Romantic Novelists' Association I decided to give it a go. Having read various magazine columns, Tweets and Facebook comments from Jane I was pretty sure it would be a light, amusing read. What I wasn't expecting was that it would also be surprisingly moving and would really make me think.
Laura is divorced from Daniel who has walked out on her due to his love for a stick thin, health obsessed, much younger woman. Laura feels fat, frumpy and washed-up. In her early forties, she suffers from low self esteem and treacherous hormones. But Laura's life is about to change as a series of events lead to her becoming involved in reality television and with a gorgeous young director called Cal.
This novel is brilliant because, although Laura is quite self-deprecating, she's not a quitter. She's a devoted mum to her son Stanley and a loyal best friend to Charlotte, but both of these relationships cause her much angst and lead to her feeling even more of a failure. With Stanley seeming to be permanently sad after his parents' divorce and apparently deeply unhappy at school, in spite of the kindness and concern of his teacher, and Charlotte oblivious to a looming crisis in her own life, it's down to Laura to desperately try to make everything all right for everyone around her, in spite of the fact that she has a stressful and unsatisfying job, a demanding boss, raging PMT and a mother from hell.
Don't for a minute think that this is a gloomy book, though. Laura is funny and Jane Wenham-Jones writes in such an easy, chatty manner that you could be listening to your best friend as she regales you with her tales of woe, while you both knock back the wine and tuck into the Maltesers, promising each other that you'll fast tomorrow.
Stanley is beautifully drawn and your heart aches for him and for Laura as she battles her guilt and tries desperately to ensure that he is able to cope with his new circumstances - living apart from his father and settling in at high school.
She is a well-rounded heroine (no pun intended!) whose vulnerability is well-observed. This makes you really ache for her as her life spirals out of control and you just know that she is about to come a cropper. Poor Laura is always trying to do the right thing, but unwise associations, the monthly "curse" and, quite often to be honest, too much wine, leads her to somehow always making huge errors of judgement that just makes everything much more complicated.
Will Laura ever recover her shattered self-esteem after her divorce? Is Cal really all he seems? Can Stanley ever be happy again? Will Charlotte ever put down her wine glass long enough to open her eyes to what's going on around her? And can garden gnomes ever be truly exciting? It's all here in this lovely, thought-provoking novel. Its nomination is well-deserved and I'm now going to have great pleasure working my way through this writer's other novels.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 29 October 2013
I couldn't put this book down! It had me gripped. The main characters were brought to life. Definitely would read again and recommend to anyone else
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 May 2013
As a forty something I did very much connect with this book. It depressed me at times only because I associated with lots of things Laura went through. The PMT, the horrendous fear of portraying myself as mutton dressed as lamb. The terrible thought that you cannot reverse time and the best of you has gone! That said, the book was hilarious and very cleverly written. I think it makes you realise that we all take life much too seriously. Come on all you forty year olds, get a grip and let's look forward to our next milestone. The big five 0!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2013
Excellent read. Empathised at times and at others laughed out loud. Finally someone matches the wine self-medication and wisdom that we forty-, or even fifty- or sixty-, somethings find just fits the bill during those life blips when things derail. Will find something else by this author. Try it...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I could not put this down, what a lovely, heart warming read. I felt as if I knew the characters, I think most of us know someone going through these life changes/crises/decisions and humiliations.

I wish there was a part 2, I will miss this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 May 2013
This book made me laugh so many times, I can't remember. I used to suffer from PMT and so I could relate to certain situations and how you react differently to things at that time of the month. Now I'm over all that and I'm going through the menopause instead, which is even more fun.

The story is about forty-two year old Laura Meredith, who doesn't only have to battle PMT, she has to come to terms with the fact that her husband has left her for a younger woman. Her son has his own problems settling into a new school, and if that's not enough for her to deal with, her best friend's husband is on the brink of having an affair. When Laura finds out about it, she does her best to get rid of the other woman without telling her friend Charlotte. Instead of helping the situation, she lands herself in even more trouble. When Laura is persuaded to take part in a reality show, things can only get worse.
If you're feeling a little down, this book is bound to lift you out of the doldrums.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2014
This was a really good book to read. Very enjoyable and made you wonder what would happen next. Found it hard to put down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2013
I really enjoyed this book really good read it was funny in parts and sad in others happy ending though
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2014
If this is your genre you will love this book as I did. I cringed for Laura and as for Cal well you'll have to read the book......would hang him out to dry. Funny and sad highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2014
I really enjoyed this book. It's not the sort I would normally read and at times I realised why. It can be a bit tacky but on the other hand it deals with some pretty real stuff. Friendships are put well and truly to the test, it makes you think about how you might handle life yourself if put into the same predicaments. You can't help but keep on reading because you really want to know what on earth is going to happen next. Recommend as a light holiday read.
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