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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 8 July 2014
.....only with different names. This is basically How To Be a Woman all over again, only the heroine's surname is Morrigan not Moran. Actually had to stop a couple of times to check I hadn't accidentally picked up the other book by mistake. There is not much new here.

Moran is a very funny writer, but please. Also all the reviews calling it a "debut novel"? Come on, she's been writing books for decades. She is essentially the female Kingsley Amis: you get the same entertaining, but far too familiar book again, and again, and again. How many home schooled working class 90s teens from Wolverhampton do we need to hear about for her to acknowledge, we got the point?

This seems to be written for adults who want to read the YA fiction they wish they had in the 90s instead of real books. OK for all that but I expected more. Moran has a lot of talent. Here's hoping someone pushes her to write about something other than herself next time.
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on 26 July 2014
This is How To Be A Woman - re-named, re-packed and re-cycled as a shallow money-making exercise by Moran and her publishers.

It's almost as if she went through all the discarded notes/entries for HTBAW and used them here. Lazy, unconvincing and - at times - a bit sexist.

Couldn't she have at least have changed the story location from Wolverhampton? I'm amazed the editor didn't demand this.
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on 21 July 2014
Having read 'How to be a Woman' and publicly cried with laughter reading it on my daily commute, I pre-ordered 'How to build a girl' anticipating another great read from Caitlin Moran. However, I was bitterly disappointed. Whilst Moran states that this book is entirely fiction and the main character of Johanna is not based on herself, the similarities with descriptions of her own childhood are uncanny. The character essentially has exactly the same upbringing and early career as Moran and you can't help but think all the scenes are based on anecdotes from Moran's own wild lifestyle in the 90s music scene. This book seems lazy. There is nothing new here besides the over the top, unnecessarily descriptive accounts of a teenage girl's sex life which leave you feeling slightly uncomfortable and I'm not usually one to be prudish at all.

It seems to me that Moran lazily rushed out a book based on her own life which she has already written about rather than use her imagination to come up with a new story and littered it with vulgar scenes in order to be 'controversial' and 'shocking'. Perhaps she should stick to non-fiction. I can relate to that and it and has had me in tears both with laughter and anguish.

I cannot recommend this book but I strongly recommend you buy How to be a Woman instead as that is a book that truly touches the heart and changes how you feel about being a woman.
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on 9 July 2014
I'm a fan of Caitlin and wanted to like this, bug it was a big disappointment. It covers the exactly same ground as the autobiographical 'How to be a woman' and Caitlin's sitcom 'Raised by wolves', ie being an overweight, unpopular teenage girl raised in a large, poor family in the Midlands. Caitlin only seems capable of writing about herself - which works well for her column, but not for what is supposedly a work of fiction.

This book really doesn't have much in the way of a plot, and I suspect it would never have been published if written by a lesser-known author. At times, the writing felt forced. I read that Caitlin really struggled to write this book, needing lots of encouragement and intervention from her publishers, and I suspect it's because she's already written extensively about the subject matter and had nothing new to say. How much can you milk the experience of being being poor/living in a big family before people get bored? Well, I'm bored. And this book came across as a cynical money-making effort rather than a work of true creativity.

If you haven't already read it, I recommend the excellent 'How to be a woman' instead. If you have already read it, don't bother with this 'new' book, which is truly nothing new.
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on 26 August 2014
It’s ironic that a novel about a young woman who becomes a music journalist is like listening to a monkey endlessly pounding out the same two notes on a piano.

Moran is a good writer, stylistically you cannot fault her, but her subject matter has now officially not just worn thin, but completely and utterly worn through. Despite the disclaimer at the beginning, this is really just a warming-over of her own story, already well and truly milked in How to be a Woman and squeezed even further dry by her columns.

The only thing that I can see is different between her own life is the number of siblings. As is well documented, Moran is one of eight, in this novel there are “only” five children, with the youngest twins. Mercifully, this lets the reader off of her regular entrenched proselytising about the welfare state and her belief that having almost a football team of children when you have no hope at all of financially supporting them at all is some kind of noble enterprise.

Most worrying of all is the ending; it is left quite open, with the heroine’s move to London. I have a feeling that this is not the last we’ll hear of Dolly Wilde.

Water finds its level; Moran is unlikely to rise any furhter than this until she finds some new subject matter. Even enfants terribles all need to grow up some day.
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on 15 July 2014
Really disappointing. I was hoping for a well-written, decent novel, as Moran's columns are always a great read, but this seemed to be written on a 'write-whatever-springs-to-mind-and-edit-it-later-oops-ran-out-of-time-so-it-didn't-get-edited' basis. Such a shame - I had been looking forward to it.
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on 27 July 2014
Johanna Morrigan/Dolly Wylde is such a grotesque caricature that my eyes almost bled reading this. And as for the storyline, it would have been more realistic if the teenage hero ended the book by saying "and then, reader, I woke up and realised it was all a dream." Just to add to the astounding numbers of clichés therein. I do like Caitlin Moran's newspaper articles, but this just read like some very poorly tacked together drunken fumblings.
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on 14 July 2014
A typically funny read from Caitlin Moran, although I could have done without the frequent references to the subject's frantic teenage masturbation...especially when conducted rather disturbingly next to her younger sleeping brother.

I was also disappointed to find a duplicated passage (literally word for word) from Moranthology - the description of her job interview with a newspaper and joke about the line from the film Annie. I haven't finished the book yet so am hoping there won't be any more repetition.
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on 19 July 2014
Not worth reading, total waste of time. Was recommended on twitter by Nigella Lawson, who claimed it was so brilliant she read it one sitting, because it was too good to put down. Then Caitlin and Nigella verbally bum licked, said how each were so wonderful and promoted each other's work. Having read the book I can confirm that Nigella's book recommendations are totally over the top for her friends and for other writers who may comment on her books. So her book recommendations can't be trusted, as she is always reminding fellow authors about the importance of royalties. A book for fellow self-absorbed folk, maybe fellow journalists as they can relate to being so self-absorbed? It's a shame, I was really looking forward to a good read, but this was anything but. Fortunately I picked it up in the local library, so at least I didn't waste my money, as well as my time.
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on 24 April 2015
Moran is interesting in 200-word newspaper columns. But in large doses? I enjoyed the book for a while. Then its louchely elbowing insistence became tedious. I finished it without enthusiasm.

It's of a piece with her rushed, tumbling speech in interviews, thrusting forward, interrupting, rattling through rehearsed anecdote after rehearsed anecdote inappropriate for the conversation but ! It will get a laugh ! It will hold centre stage ! Pay attention ! Pay attention ! Pay attention to ME ! ! ! -- Yes. We're paying attention. What would you like us to learn from you? -- Er... There isn't enough love in the world, and we should be nicer to one another! -- Ah. Thank you.

Maybe that's what one has to do as one of a dozen children if one is to be noticed at all; be the one who never walks, only tap-dances. "If I can't be graceful, I'll be loud." But oh, what a relief for everyone else, when Caitlin leaves the room, when the clatter stops.
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