Customer Reviews


612 Reviews
5 star:
 (229)
4 star:
 (144)
3 star:
 (98)
2 star:
 (84)
1 star:
 (57)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


82 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who Was Silvia?
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...
Published on 25 Oct. 2012 by ACB(swansea)

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French
In Oh Dear Silvia, Silvia Shute is in a coma. Silva has a secret; a secret that’s led to the end of her marriage with Ed, a breakdown in the relationship with her children Cassie & Jamie and to her having a lesbian relationship with Cat. Each of the characters are convinced that they are the only one that can bring Silvia out of her coma.
The idea behind the...
Published 5 months ago by Antony Simpson


‹ Previous | 1 262 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

82 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who Was Silvia?, 25 Oct. 2012
By 
ACB(swansea) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Oh Dear Silvia (Kindle Edition)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A warm, funny, affectionate novel, 1 Nov. 2012
By 
Frances Stott (Devizes, Wiltshire) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Oh Dear Silvia (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just looking made my heart hurt..., 4 Nov. 2012
By 
The Little Bookworm "The little bookworm" (North Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Oh Dear Silvia (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am always dubious about celebrity books but I heard Dawn talking about this on Loose Women and thought it sounded intriguing. I must admit, when I received it I wasn't at all sure about the synopsis. It sounded really morbid and depressing.

The story is about Silvia, who is in a coma. We don't know why and we only learn about her through the people that visit her in hospital - her daughter, her lover, her ex husband, her sister, her cleaner, the nurses. We also hear from her son, through letters as he is in Afghanistan.

Now, what I thought of Silvia at the start had completely changed by the end. She has made some decisions which initially are difficult to understand but I grew to really feel for her and realise she wasn't the person people thought she was.

I wasn't sure about most of the book being set in a hospital room but it really works. Never once did I feel bored by it. Despite it's subject matter, the book is easy to read and really drew me in. I loved all the different characters. The book is also extremely funny and not morbid in the slightest.

It lost a star as Winnie, the nurse, is Jamaican and I found her chapters really frustrating to read due to her accent. I also really struggled to understand the relationship that developed between her and Ed. It just didn't feel right with the rest of the story.

I really enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend it. I look forward to reading more by Dawn.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars adorable hidden depth, 18 Nov. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Oh Dear Silvia (Kindle Edition)
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 ......my 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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever, absorbing and touching, 2 Nov. 2012
By 
Mrs. PJ Taylor (Reading UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Oh Dear Silvia (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An onion book, peeling back the layers of Silvia's life, 4 Nov. 2012
By 
C. Bannister (Jersey, CI) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Oh Dear Silvia (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French, 18 Dec. 2014
By 
Antony Simpson (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Oh Dear Silvia (Paperback)
In Oh Dear Silvia, Silvia Shute is in a coma. Silva has a secret; a secret that’s led to the end of her marriage with Ed, a breakdown in the relationship with her children Cassie & Jamie and to her having a lesbian relationship with Cat. Each of the characters are convinced that they are the only one that can bring Silvia out of her coma.
The idea behind the book is a fantastic one, but any writer would struggle to do much with their main character being in a coma. French uses the other characters having conversations with an unresponsive Silvia to tell the story. It meant there was an awful lot of telling, rather than a good mix of show and tell. French was forced put the description into the conversations. At times it was overly descriptive and occasionally made the conversations feel unnatural.

I waited for the paperback of Oh Dear Silvia and it did take me a while to get into the book. But once I was

hooked, I found myself at night thinking: I’ll just read one more chapter before bed. Then staying up late to read three chapters.
The pacing of the story was excellent. However a source of frustration was the repetitiveness of Ed talking about trees. Oh Dear Silvia is exceptionally funny, with the laugh-out-loud comedy usually being delivered by Jo, Silvia’s New Age Hippie Sister. The reader will also enjoy Winnie, Silvia’s Jamaican Pentecostal Christian Nurse who is cleverly written as she’d speak.

As the reader gets to know the characters and what’s happened between Silvia & them, a secret is slowly revealed. A dark secret that’s truly stupendous.

The reader comes to understand Silvia’s choice to cut off her family, that it was to protect them. Empathy develops for Silvia that leads to an emotional ending. The book did end prematurely, it would have been interesting to have seen the characters reaction to the revelation of Silvia’s secret.

Everything considered, Oh Dear Silvia is a mixed bag. It got lots of great aspects that you’ll enjoy, but it really is an easy read that’s intended for light entertainment. It is worth a read, but don’t expect for the story to be memorable or to cause you to think.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great idea but..., 6 Mar. 2014
By 
Bookie (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Oh Dear Silvia (Kindle Edition)
I've worked hard to enjoy this book, but overall, I'm disappointed by poor delivery of a good idea. Dawn French is an acute observer of human foibles. She knows how to extend the 'ordinary' to a side splitting 'extraordinary'. She can exploit every ounce of potential humour from any situation and her quick wit and ready repartee is a singular strength. So what happened here?

In this tale about a comatose Sylvia, somewhere along the way, much of the humour and potential poignancy was lost. I liked the idea of an individual's life being perceived and dissected from various viewpoints. But the chosen narrative format, for me, was too restricted and resulted in a string of monologue deliveries with no opportunity for dialogue exchanges. The fact that some were in patois should have added a different and engaging dimension but ended up being sometimes difficult to understand and rather stereotyped. The parade of visitors and their role in Sylvia's life was occasionally confusing. I lost interest in most of the individuals because they failed to engage as characters in their own right. Whilst there were moments of both humour and compassion, this story lacked cohesion. Parts could work well as short sketches, but the idea is overextended for novel format. Although I got through to the end, I was tempted more than once to abandon it.

This review is from the audible version narrated by Dawn French (and others). I also tried a sample download to see if reading the narrative improved the experience. It didn't.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars easy read yet subtley deals with the bigger issues, another great book by dawn french, 15 Nov. 2012
By 
Mrs. J. L. Barkley (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Oh Dear Silvia (Hardcover)
although through the way this book is written it seems like just another easy read, it surprisingly sneaks in, along with a lot of humour, some deeper thoughts and themes. Without giving anything away, the ending brought me to tears and highlights the relationships between family members and those we love, whether they deserve our love or not. As i heard Dawn say in an interview the British often find humour in our darkest times and the book demonstrates this beautifully. Enjoyed dawn's previous books but this has to be the best so far, she has obviously found a style she is comfortable with but it seems that she is becoming more confident with each book, can't wait for her next novel, no pressure intended!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't like the sound of French's first but this held me, 24 Mar. 2013
By 
K. J. Noyes "Katy Noyes" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Oh Dear Silvia (Hardcover)
Reading this has increased the respect I hold for Dawn French. I never read her first book but was interested in the story of her second.

I loved it. Having just finished, and thinking about the book as a whole, it is very assured and from one you might think is an experienced writer.

Each character talks to Silvia in her coma, their stories all seen from her hospital bed (including occasional clunky exposition but that can e forgiven). Silvia is not given a voice but the story is the stronger for it. As is said near the climax, "she is the pivot for them all", all their lives are changed after her coma, with her doing and saying nothing except in flashback, her situation effects her family and those close to her.

As I am meant to, I started the book feeling certain ways about several characters and slowly and with revelations suddenly found victims and their controllers were switching places, reasons for behaviours were shed light on, misconceptions were cleared. But only for the reader.

Which made the ending more poignant. One character WILL get their comeuppance. Another's selfless actions will possibly never be understood, but if so, never can be made right.

Very impressive. This really hit a nerve with me. I loved the characters and the revelations, and the writing. Well done Ms French!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 262 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews