Reading in Bed Paperback – 1 May 2008
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'as seductively readable as its title suggests...draws the reader in with its skilful portrayal of real-life situations' (The Times)
'Beautifully observed and astute on tangled relationships. It deserves to be her breakthrough novel' Sarah Broadhurst, BooksellerSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
As the story unfolds, we meet Chloe, Georgia's daughter who is longing to find someone who will love her, and Mad Maud, Henry's elderly cousin, sliding into dementia and living on her Sussex farm which, whilst the narrator likens it to the Larkins' farm in The Darling Buds of May, has more than a passing resemblance to Cold Comfort Farm. And then, in Yorkshire, Dido and Jeffrey have their own formidable problems to overcome.
Some readers mightn't care for the without-quotation-marks speech, where a single dash indicates speech; others, and I include myself here, will find it refreshing.
If this novel were a meal, it would be a sustaining casserole, not a quick fix pot noodle. It is rich and satisfying, and a story which will remain with me for a very long time.
Unlike that novel, with its wonderfully evoked rural setting, this all feels a bit smugly middle-class and monocultural. Everyone's got a Problem, and this results in some irritating viewpoint-hopping - for example a brief one-off excursion into the head of Paula, Dido's aloof daughter-in-law. The outcomes of Chloe's relationships - disastrous and then successful - are clearly signalled from afar.
Also, there are some annoying new mannerisms - too liberal a sprinkling of brackets, frequent invitations to the reader to guess who made a particular remark, and even direct author interventions: 'I'm crying now, just writing about it.' Worse - especially with literate and literary women as her viewpoint characters - Sue Gee uses far too many cliches for a writer of her calibre: "good as gold", "dead as a doornail", "sobbed her heart out", all in the first chapter.
Having said all this, I was engrossed, and it did indeed keep me reading in bed far past the time when I should have got up. But if this were the first I'd read of Sue Gee, I'm not sure I'd go on to the others.
THE HOURS OF THE NIGHT is a fine novel, and one I'd recommend to anyone. This one seems intent on categorising itself as lightweight women's fiction. I hope Sue Gee will return to form with her next novel - and yes, I shall read it.
This is a beautifully-written novel, with wonderfully believable characters and situations. I particularly liked the way Gee celebrates literature and its power in our lives, and also the joy of having animals - Georgia is kept going in widowhood by the presence of her two handsome Abyssinian cats. Gee also writes very movingly on bereavement (very impressive indeed, particularly considering that she became a widow herself while writing this book). Georgia's belief that her husband will be 'returned to her' is heartbreakingly convincing, and her struggles to keep going and enjoy life enormously admirable. Chloe's desire for a cosy family life, and her feeling that she was never quite the 'right' daughter for her mother due to her dyslexia are also very sensitively handled. I'm sure I wasn't the only reader who gave a cheer when she eventually gave up on her tedious boyfried Jez and found the right man, most unexpectedly.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Thought provoking and poignant for women of a certain age.....it made me feel suddenly very clingy and to my husband who is turning 60 next year and not retiring but easing up... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Paul Richards
This is a wonderful story about two old friends and their families. Perhaps you could say that too many bad things happen to too many of the principal characters, a serious... Read morePublished 7 months ago by B. Bampton
Sue Gee is wonderful.
Hers are real women - real & believable.
I love it.
Nice enough book but I wouldnt say 'you must read this', just an OK bedtime read. Doesnt really go anywherePublished on 10 Feb. 2014 by berenice jeffery
A slow start which shapes as it goes. Will touch many a nerve in women coming out of remunerated work, realistically facing the body's changes and all that goes with them, without... Read morePublished on 11 Dec. 2013 by jayjo
I found this was rather different from other books by this author. The feelings and problems surrounding losses of various kinds were explored through its characters. Read morePublished on 21 Sept. 2013 by Anne Rose W
I've just reread this book after a few years, and have been thoroughly delighted by it all over again. Read morePublished on 20 Sept. 2013 by P M Overton
The story itself is reasonably well-written if you like novels about the white middle classes. However, the writing style is full of self-indulgent mannerisms, such as using a dash... Read morePublished on 10 Aug. 2013 by S. J. Smythe
Enjoyable "real life" story. Didn't much care for the without-quotation-marks speech (where a single dash indicates speech) as it could be confusing sometimes.Published on 7 July 2013 by mm