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Reading in Bed Paperback – 1 May 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (1 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755303121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755303120
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 403,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'as seductively readable as its title suggests...draws the reader in with its skilful portrayal of real-life situations' (The Times)

Book Description

'Beautifully observed and astute on tangled relationships. It deserves to be her breakthrough novel' Sarah Broadhurst, Bookseller

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the story of Dido and Georgia, friends since they met at college. They even married chaps who were also friends at college and, since then, have shared so many things, holidays, family events and most of all, a shared love of literature. Indeed, the book opens with Dido and Georgia leaving the Hay on Wye Literary Festival, each returning home, Dido to York and Henry and Georgia to London and, since widowhood the previous year, an empty house. And all the while, literature creeps into the narrative, from Katharine Whitehorn's Cooking in a Bedsitter to the Russian writers, in particular The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
... and it's not only the cover. Sue Gee's great gift is to hook her readers and keep them engrossed, but to my mind this doesn't match THE HOURS OF THE NIGHT, her masterpiece.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Sue Gee is one of my favourite writers and I have thoroughly enjoyed her new novel READING IN BED. She writes with subtlety and a rare compassion for her characters and is adroit when it comes to making the reader care what happens to them and ache with sympathy for their problems. I won't put any plot spoilers here, but one of the most poignant lines in the book is where a middle aged man is described as 'blushing to the roots of his thinning hair'.) A brilliant novel. Thank you, Sue Gee!
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By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gee is in top form in this story, which celebrates literature, friendship and love, and deals bravely with bereavement, dementia and the difficulties of finding out what you really want in life once you've reached 30. Dido and Georgia are two literature-loving friends, who've known each other since their student days. Now Georgia has tragically lost her beloved husband Henry to cancer and has to forge a life alone in her sixties, while Dido has to face up to the fact that her university-lecturer husband has committed a professional misdemeanour, and an unexpected and painful illness of her own. Meanwhile Georgia's daughter Chloe, a stylist who has fought acute dyslexia to have a good career, is longing for marriage and motherhood, and Georgia's crazy cousin-by-marriage Maud is descending into dementia, requiring someone to care for her.

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.
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