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Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I came to this novel with mixed feelings, as novels by celebrities are so often disappointing. But I had heard good things of this one, so I thought I would give it a try.

And I'm so glad I did, for Dawn French writes beautifully. This is the story of the eponymous Silvia, who is lying in hospital in a coma after a fall from a balcony. Into her hospital room comes a series of visitors, and as they visit they reflect on Silvia, their separate relationship with her, and their own stories. Much of this is done in the form of speaking aloud to the apparently lifelss Silvia, and all to the background of the regular hiss of her ventilator. Among the visitors is her ex-husband, Ed, her mad sister Jo (who is determined to rouse Silvia by whatever means she can; supernatural if need be), her cleaner Tia, her estranged daughter Jess, her best friend Cat, and the lovely West Indian nurse Winnie (my favourite character). As they talk we build up a picture of Silvia and her life, the affect she has had on others, and the dark secret that comes to light in the course of the book. The characters are drawn with great warmth (this is one of the book's greatest strengths), and it would be hard not to sympathise with any of them.

My only slight problems would be the fact that two of the characters - Tia and Winnie - speak with strong accents, and this can be distracting. Winnie's West Indian is beautifully done, but the addition of Tia's broken English was, I felt, going a step too far. Parts of the novel, too, are a little over-long (especially the lengthy letter from her soldier son in Afghanistan). But these are small niggles.

This novel has come out at just the right time, and will I'm sure make a lovely Christmas present for anyone wanting a light, funny, entertaining read. I highly recommend it.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 25 October 2012
This second novel by Dawn French is easy to read but in the early parts difficult to interweave the various contributions of the narrators into a cohesive piece of work. Persevere, it is worth it. Silvia Shute has fallen three floors from a balcony. She is in intensive care in a coma on life-support including mechanical ventilation. She is the younger sister of the eccentric Jo. They lost their mother at a young age and their army-trained father went off the rails. Sylvia divorced dependable Ed after showing little love for him or their two children, Jamie and Cassie who after leaving home had no love or respect for their mother.

This background is the canvas on which the author paints the past and mysteries of Silvia through a series of monologues delivered by family and friends. She is inert and unresponsive 'like a marble sarcophagus'. The content of the monologues alternate between love and hatred, sibling rivalry and jealousy with Ed in particular, 'dead inside'. The prose jumps from straight dialogue to charming descriptions particularly of the woods where Silvia and Ed spent much of their courtship. The dismal outlook and depressing medical predicament of this tragedy are broken by episodes of humour. The Indonesian Tia (Silvia's cleaner) spends her moments relating the contents of current gossip magazines in an amusing format. Jo refuses to give up hope and reality of waking her 'frozen sister' with a series of bizarre, funny and hilarious attempts to stimulate some response.

The novel is held together by Silvia's Jamaican nurse, Winnie. She treats Silvia with the repect she gives all her patients and is the only one with no axe to grind, no anger, hate or questions but only wishes good things for Silvia. She is a totally professional caring person.

There are some subplots, some improbable and others rather repetitive. The circumstances surrounding the ill-tempered, violent, possessive Irish Cat (a GP),are an important part of the novel, yet do have some improbable features. The descriptions of her native Connemara are attractively portrayed.

I enjoyed the book. I felt although the narrators were speaking individually, they were able, at last, to express their true emotions withought the worries of feedback. Almost a stage-play situation. Dawn French then pulls it all together with the unexpected and surprising revelations, explaining the secrets of the protagonists' lives. Well-worth reading and well-written.
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on 12 August 2014
I found it an incredibly boring book, i m sorry to say ! All this ranting about trees and forests and crazy friends, etc etc. The story really did not appeal to me, i never connected with this book. You know this lovely feeling when you re soo in to your book, that you long to read on and drop everything. Let s just say that when i went to bed where i always read before going to sleep, it was such a bore that last night i skipped half of it and went to the end, something i have never done before. And this means somehing because i am an avid reader since the age of 6 so that s 40 years of intense reading. I know it is a bestseller, but i do not get what the fuss is about. Big disapointment....
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on 18 October 2014
Oh dear! I have admired and respected Dawn for many years and before purchasing the book I read some of the reader reviews of Oh Dear Sylvia, I thought that those giving 1 star just didn't "get" the plotline.
However having struggled through the first 10 chapters I do get the plot, indeed it is obvious from chapter 2, but I cannot for the life of me find anything even faintly humerous about all the visitors at the bedside of someone in a coma. I can't even believe the professional critics were laughing "on every page". I found I was dozing off after about 3 pages and I am someone who was so engrossed in a book I could not put it down and read it right through the night.
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on 9 July 2013
I cannot understand how anyone can find a comic element in this. I am a great admirer of Dawn French, but this is not her finest hour. The underlining of words in the text just irritated me, and was not at all necessary. The character of Winnie was offensive in its stereotyping, not to mention hard to understand. The basic concept was quite clever, and the gradual unveiling of the truth was interesting, however although we discover that Silvia probably had good motives for the way she behaved, by that time I really did not care.
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on 18 November 2012
chosen after tv promotions by Dawn left me more than interested,I knew what the overriding scenario would be and ejoyed the fresh style of introducing the characters. Silvia was just incidental and I enjoyed the speed that the characters revealed themselves in such a unique setting. I did wonder how a whole book could continue thus.
As the days past by opinion of Silvia changed from one of total dislike to a frustrated feeling of empathy towards her. The frustration arose because the reader was slowly learning the whole truth but it would be impossible for the characters in the book to learn it.
It demonstrated the cliche "blood is thicker than water".
in the end the reader was left in no doubt that Cat would surely be receiving her "due justice" but I totally became aware of the perfectly assigned book title.

A beautiful read and I shall await patiently Dawn French's second novel. She has a unique style and insight.
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VINE VOICEon 2 November 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I wanted to read Dawn French's latest book as I read her first 'A Tiny Bit Marvellous' on holiday in the summer and was very impressed by her very well-observed picture of family life.

This book has a similar theme, in the it explores the role of the mother figure within a family and how the psyche of other family members is formed, nurtured and disrupted by this relationship. In this case, the mother figure is present but, having fallen from a balcony, is in a coma. Her family members are all is some way estranged from her, yet are forced into close proximity with her unresponsive physical presence. With her strong personality, as it were, under wraps, each family member and close associate is able to confront and face up to the issues that lie between them.

It is a sad book, but also warm and, in places, funny. Dawn is very brave in her tackling of various accents. Definitely worth reading.
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on 7 December 2014
Really really tried to get into this book, had assumed there might be some comedy at some point given the author's background but sadly not. It also lacked any real interesting plot to try and keep my interest. I did eventually finish the book but that was purely down to my determination to just find out how it ended and that tunred out to be an overly emotional let down.

I can't think of any one i know who might like this book.
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Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Oh Dear Silvia is a series of conversations with a woman in a coma, Silvia. Each person who visits Silvia in hospital has their own view on her life, and theirs. It is a clever book in that the initial opinion I formed of Silvia and her visitors isn't the one I held by the end of the book.

Although I enjoyed the read I did find the underlining of words for emphasis very off-putting, and the Jamaican accent of Willow the nurse was hard to read although she was one of my favourite characters.

Be warned there are some seriously weird visitors to Silvia's room which conjures up some funny moments to lighten the otherwise sombre subject. It is a hard book to categorise into any genre which is a compliment rather than a criticism. A good book for anyone who wants to read something a little different.
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on 21 February 2015
I thought this was meant to be funny. I found it quite difficult to read, possibly because it reminded me of hospital visits to a dying relative (not much humour there either!).
Unloved character lies in hospital bed visited by people who don't like her, most of whom tell her so. Even her ex-husband visits her and I had to wonder why.
I thought Winnie was the most likeable character and she also seemed to have more of a life outside the hospital than the other characters - but spare me her speech patterns which not only felt slightly insulting but really slowed down the pace of the book. As the story was a bit of a slog this was not helpful.
I enjoyed Tiny Bit Marvellous - very disappointed in this one.
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