Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About Paperback – 14 May 2003
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In his weekly Guardian column, Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, Mil Millington archly chronicles the domestic dialectical antagonisms of life with his German partner, Margret. Although this novel, confusingly, shares the same title as the column and its central characters, Pel Dalton and Ursula Krötenjäger, are an Anglo-German couple not averse to disagreement, it is, without wishing to make a blindingly obvious point, a work of fiction. Millington's customarily whimsical take on contemporary gender relations is, of course, much in evidence but some of the sharper comedy here actually occurs beyond the familial settings. In certain respects the book has possibly more in common with the wry, mild-mannered satire of the Ealing films or David Nobbs' Reginald Perrin than the novels of Tony Parsons, Nick Hornby and co. (At one point Millington, though no doubt entirely unintentionally, even pilfers a classic Perrin gag.)
The book's narrator and protagonist, Pel, is a slightly hapless father of two who works in a library, or in modern parlance a "Learning Centre", at the University of North-Eastern England ("UoNe to its friends"). When his boss Terry Steven Russell ("TSR") vanishes from the University not long after babbling about extradition treaties during a game of Lazer Wars, Pel is promoted to Computer Team Administration, Software Acquisition and Training Manager (or "CTASATM" for short.) While the post pays no more money and he still has to do his old job as well, it does mean his partner Ursula, an affectionate if exacting German, can forge ahead with long-cherished plans to move house. Needless to say neither moving nor dealing with disgruntled colleagues and negotiating the university's slippery corporate structure prove easy. But as the latter finds Pel embroiled in acting as courier for the Triads, presiding over a scheme to build a new extension over a historical burial site and hiding a deadly nerve gas under its foundations, what he and his girlfriend argue about rather pales into insignificance. --Travis Elborough --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Millington takes us to the place where relationships go bad, but never forgets the humour (Latest Homes)
A brilliantly written comedy. A novel that manages to be both funny and affectionate (Guardian)
Cringingly familiar, devastatingly funny . . . definitely one for fans of Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons (Mango Book Club website)
With his tear-inducing humour, Millington has tapped into the zeitgeist, Helen Fielding-style. (Vogue)
Laugh out loud funny, realistic, insightful and thoroughly entertaining (Courier)
While books that claim to be 'laugh-out-loud funny' are legion, ones such as this that actually are are rarer than molars on a Rhode Island Hen . . . There is little to say about coupledom that is not wittily and often movingly explored here. Sharply-written, brilliantly observed and absolutely hilarious. (Wendy Holden, Daily Mail)
A fantastic debut - a funny and heart-warming comedy about love, fatherhood and being in the wrong places at all the wrong times. (Essentials)
Highlights just how painful love can be and just how much its precious memories should be valued (The Week)
Insightful and wickedly funny. (Heat)
The plot escalates with all the shameless hyperbole needed to fuel a really good row . . . This is a very funny book. (Observer)
Compulsive reading . . . drenched in self-deprecating humour. (Metro)
Mil Millington's comic timing is spot-on in this laugh-out-loud warm-hearted and engaging novel. (Publishing News)
A very funny look at relationships. (Company)
It's impossible not to laugh out loud at the Anglo-German quips and world-weary observations that tumble off the page (Guardian)
A brilliant, thoroughly urbane hoot (The Big Issue in the North)
A funny and touching read (Hello)
Hilarious and insightful . . . Realistic and acerbic, this first novel is bound to receive a lot of attention. (Bookseller)
Mil Millington's legendary bust-ups with his long-term lover . . . have now spawned a madcap novel. (In Style)
It's really funny (Daily Express)
A surprise hit . . . a quirky little comedy. (Mirror)
Guaranteed to raise a smile (Irish News)
Funny . . . moves at a cracking pace (Sunday Mirror)
A comedy of relationships in all their confusions (Sunday Life)
I don't normally quote for fiction, but as clearly all Mil has done in the way of fiction here is change the name 'Mil' to the name 'Pel', I have no compunction whatsoever in pointing out that this is completely hilarious. (Jenny Colgan)
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Top Customer Reviews
And being nudged by this person and then asked to read a bit is even worse.
Also, do not read this book in the loo either. It is still not socially acceptable to be heard laughing from inside a toilet (especially when alone).
Pel is the kind of guy that women dread. He's a loafer; a drifter. He just "is". There is no preconceived ambition to his life and the things that happen to him could quite possibly happen to a person like him because he is out of control. This is where Ursula comes in and this is why they argue. Ursula spends 85% of her time having no concept of reason which is what makes her utterly uproariously funny, because when she DOES display reasonable tendencies, she uses her rapier tongue to flay Pel (and anyone else who comes within striking distance) alive. Please see the passage about the roofers. I about wet my pants.
The other character that is essential to the success of this book in my view is the Vice Chancellor. Mil's descriptive wording as the Vice Chancellor details his hangovers are pure medicine. You'll laugh so hard, you're eyes will bulge. The Vice Chancellor rocks!
Stop procrastinating and go and buy this book. It's damned funny and I can't wait for Mil Millington to write something else (cereal packets, government health warnings... if he writes it, I'll read it)
This book is so full of visual gags its crying out to be made into a film - perhaps it already is being, and that could explain the abruptness of the ending, totally unresolved as everything is. Does Part Two await?
My criticisms, though, are that the plot is ultimately unsatisfying. Pel gets into trouble, but it's nothing he's done that puts him there, he's just (very) unlucky. He does little or nothing to get himself out of the problems, and nothing is resolved. It's like some sort of plot has been grafted on to make the (really funny) situations (shopping, work, parent's evening, buying a house) hang together. As a novel it doesn't work. As a series of picaresque situations, it's really very funny.
This book had me sniggering from the first page with its rich, sarcastic humour. There's plenty of observations on life here and many of them hit home for me.
If you are looking for some really funny reading - this book is a must.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I like it, I'd recommend it, but only at a cheap price.
Some of his online articles are funnier, but then, they don't have a plot / story.
This book is so funny, I laughed out aloud. Written with skill and genuine affection. Although the situations were outrageous they seemed so real life. Read morePublished 9 months ago by M
So so. Fairly entertaining, but don't grip me. Unbelievably far fetched in places.Published 12 months ago by Dr. Alice H. Hearne
For the first few chapters I found this quite amusing, even belly laugh inducing once or twice. But eventually the sheer ridiculousness of it all got to me. Read morePublished on 5 Jun. 2013 by AlanP
Possibly the greatest thing about fiction is that it transports you to places you will never go. You may be on a Starship or fighting an Orc. Read morePublished on 19 Mar. 2012 by Sam Tyler
The story is interesting and the book gives a different perspective on love and relations within a cople. Read morePublished on 27 Aug. 2011 by Borghetti81
I don't know what all the fuss is about.
If people live their lives like this, then no wonder the world is in a mess. Read more
While there were parts of this book i really enjoyed and had laugh out loud moments too, other parts i felt dragged a little and will admit to doing some skim reading. Read morePublished on 5 Jan. 2010 by Gemma
I so wanted this to be funny, having read some of it in the Guardian. While there is the occasional snigger it soon becomes desperately forced, puerile and unsatisfying. Read morePublished on 24 Sept. 2009 by Jon Swan