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183 Times A Year Paperback – 28 Apr 2016
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'I really enjoyed this book. It really grasped the nature of mother/daughter relationships very well, in a way that was funny but also at times, touching and poignant' --Jill's Book Cafe
About the Author
Eva Jordan is a published short story writer with a degree in English and History. She lives in a small town in Cambridgeshire with her partner Steve and three of their four children whom, she says, are a constant source of inspiration. Her career has been varied but storytelling through the art of writing is her passion. 183 Times A Year is her debut novel.
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I thoroughly enjoyed 183 Times A Year. Eva Jordan manages to create genuine and vivid voices for each of her characters so that I totally believed in them, especially Lizzie and Cassie. I’ve never been a mother, but the relationships between Lizzie and her extended family are just perfect. The feelings and emotions conveyed are those anyone can relate to. I laughed aloud, found myself nodding in agreement (particularly at some of Lizzie’s conversations with herself in her head) and shed a few tears too when reading 183 Times A Year.
The plot is a corker. There are so many elements that combine into a hugely satisfying read. Some aspects were really unexpected and I think this reflects Eva Jordan’s skill as a writer. Her narrative very much mirrors the unpredictability of real life which is one of her themes. This is so cleverly done.
Indeed, it is the themes in 183 Times A Year that ensure this is a perfect read for so many. Love, family, betrayal, relationships, race, gender, society, money, health, social media and so on are all part of the fabric of real life as well as this realistic and engaging story. Given that it is set near to where I live too, I found its authenticity so engaging.
I loved the literary and musical references that pepper the text. They add real colour to the writing and help develop character at the same time. I so wish I’d thought to name one of my own cats Romeow! Whilst I found some of Cassie’s vocabulary irritating, particularly the use of ‘sick’ this was also just right. She IS irritating at times. She’s a typical teenage girl. She’s also incredibly funny because of her malapropisms. Along with Lizzie she was the most appealing character for me.
There’s wit, emotion, social commentary and incredible warmth in 183 Times A Year. It both entertains and surprises and I loved it.
Towards the beginning of the novel, I did get somewhat confused about who was who. This is probably because there appear to be not just two but three generations covered by the story, with Lizzie and her daughters all referring to the previous generation as ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’. This improved drastically once I got into the body of the novel, and realised that each section is prefaced by the name of the viewpoint character.
The thing that’s really cool about this book is the way Jordan has managed to think her way into the psyches of both a teenage girl and her middle-aged mum. The viewpoints are distinct from one another and relatively strict about keeping to the vocabularies they use, and have clean transitions clearly marked. The opinions are appropriate for the characters and expressed in different “voices”. I enjoyed this aspect of the book particularly, as it mirrors what I do in my own writing.
The character-writing is very strong, though the plotting is less obvious. There are various minor events, for example, the teenaged daughter taking an exam, various minor life events such as the family going on holiday, and a major one concerning friendship, but little hint of an actual plot until a major event a long way in. But in this, the novel follows the structure of such classics as The Mill on the Floss (George Eliot), where the story is constructed around life events and the characters’ own actions. It’s therefore not a bad thing, just a rarity in a publishing world based on the plot-driven – rather than the character-driven – novel.
The characters are reactive, rather than proactive, but in this type of fiction that’s all to the good, as it makes them more believable and sympathetic as characters. The situations are very every-day and credible, though, and one thing Jordan is adept at is controlling the flow of information to the reader. It was probably this, along with that enjoyable quirky perspective, that kept me reading. I feel no hesitation in recommending this meandering, enjoyable trawl through the flotsam and jetsam of life, whether or not you like chick lit.
Now I need to get cracking on the sequel!