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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For me I like a book to be entertaining, to be sad or funny or both, light hearted or serious but this book had nothing...nothing to endear me to any of the characters..it was like being invited for coffee only to have your host bang on and on and on about people you don't know, have never met and quite frankly would never want to.
I had hoped to find an interesting book with older characters in it to make a change from thirty-somethings...alas I couldn't get past the first few chapters. Destined for the local Swiss charity bookshelf where I doubt it will be read by anyone either as it is not in French or German.
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. The story of Dido and her husband Jeffrey, and how they cope with the changes in their married life was also very well written. And the account of Georgia and Chloe dealing with the crazy but not altogether unsympathetic old Maud will strike a chord of sympathy with many people who've had to deal with unstable elderly relatives!
There are a few things in 'Reading in Bed' that may mildly irritate. Chloe's speech patterns (full of phrases such as 'I'm, like, really knackered', or 'it's, like, popular culture') may annoy at times - and would the daughter of such well-spoken people as Georgia and her husband Henry really have talked like that? Her relationship with Jez drags on rather, as well, as does the account of Maud's decline into senility.
But this being said, I'd still give the novel five stars - such beautiful and truthful writing coupled with good storytelling doesn't come along all that often.
Like other reviewers, I didn't care for the dash replacing speech marks, or some of the more obvious author 'intrusions' into the story. But these are minor carps; I really LOVED this novel - and having the same love of literature that's so enjoyably described for the two ladies in the book, I'm very excited to have found a new author to follow!
I enjoyed the book, but found the layout - a dash to introduce dialogue - irritating and confusing as I had to go back and re-read some sections to see which was speech and which was narrative. I found I did care about the characters even though occasionally I wanted to shake Georgia because she kept expecting Henry to return to her. Apart from these comparatively minor issues I found the book worth reading.