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on 16 September 2017
I hardly ever put a book away without finishing it, but this one has beaten me. A tedious and repetitive storyline, whingeing about what appears to be a normal, pretty good life. Maybe it gets better if you get further in but I just can't bear to read any more. Not funny.
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on 26 June 2017
This Book was truly awful. In reality I'd give it zero stars. I made it a few pages in (not sure i even got to the end of the first chapter) and was so sick to death of the moaning, miserable 'heroine' that I couldn't take anymore. I'm not sure what the cover reviewers were reading who dubbed it 'hilarious' but it certainly wasn't this book. I rarely give up on a book, but i think the main character would have driven me mad with her constant whining - if you think this is a hilarious insight into 'family' life then I pity the family you grew up in. I passed my copy onto the recycling bin so no other poor soul has to be subjected to the drivel.
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on 23 June 2011
The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs by Christina Hopkinson is a truly laugh-out-loud wry take on wedded bliss gone awry. On the face of it, it seems to be just a middle-class comedy of errors about one women's fight to get her slothful husband to change his slovenly ways.

Joel is the traditional slacker; the husband who leaves his coffee mug around to collect all manner of detritus, discards wet towels like chewing gum wrappers and generally doesn't do his fair share around the house or with the kids, expecting Mary to pick up the pieces he leaves behind. All Mary wants is a neat, ordered house - just like her friend Mitzi - and so she starts The List, an excel spreadsheet of Joel's domestic disappointments and gives him six months to prove his worth or else.

However, as the book unfolds it becomes much more than just a domestic drama about Mary's marital discontent. At the heart of this book is the love story between Mary and Joel that with the introduction of children falls apart. It's the middle-class dream in all it's Aga, soy café lattes beauty turned upside down with the realisation that with children our lives are no longer our own. Mary's friend Mitzi seems to have it all; the beautiful, perpetually clean house, the wonderful children and the perfect alpha-male husband, while Mary is up to her arms in detritus and baby poo.

I won't give anything away but as with everything in life; the realisation that all is not what it seems and that we should always be wary of what we wish for comes true.

Being a married man with two children myself there was much to relate to in this book. The laughs were plentiful, the drama gripping, the scene in Norfolk shocking and the ending - as ending should be- was perfect.

This isn't chic-lit, it's deeper, more meaningful and says something important about how we live today - trying to have everything and risking ending up with nothing. It should resonate with both women and men in equal measure.

Top marks Christina for a great read. If you find this book amongst the pile of stuff at the bottom of the stairs, I'd sit down and read it and worry about the cleaning up later.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 21 March 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you have a husband or partner and children you will find 'The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs' by
Christina Hopkinson extremely amusing, plenty of laugh out loud moments throughout. In fact my husband
got quite fed up with me reading out bits to him especially as some snippets bared a remarkable resemblance
to someone very close to me ... need I say more!

Here's the gist ...

Mary is dissatisfied with her husband Joel big time. Her gripes (and boy there are a few) are mainly about
her husband's lack of ability in the domestic line of things, being totally incapable of tidying up after himself
for example really rankles her. On top of that there's his lethargic attitude to looking after their children
and the fact that he sides with his mother about all manner of minor but never the less annoying topics.

It's a typical woman versus man type of war, however this time with a difference ... Joel has no idea it's
even going on, totally oblivious in his laziness he fails to notice that Mary appears to be preoccupied of late,
in fact she is completely engrossed in her version of a star chart, this one's for her husband and whereas a
child's star chart keeps track of good deeds, this one keeps meticulous detail of all Joel's bad points.

I love the quote at the beginning of the book from the author 'To Alex - you constantly inspire me but you are
not the inspiration for the story of a grumpy woman married to an untidy man', but sometimes you get to wondering
just how does she know so much :)

A great read and a fun book to discuss with other member of a reading book club.
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VINE VOICEon 6 June 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the story of Mary and Joel, a married couple with two small boys. Mary is getting increasingly irritated by Joel's behaviour around the house. He leaves a mess wherever he goes, doesn't put his laundry in the basket but just launches it in the general direction, walks past the pile of stuff at the bottom of the stairs that is supposed to be taken upstairs, and so on. Joel is every other woman's idea of the perfect man, but Mary's patience is wearing thin.

Inspired by her son's star chart where he is awarded a star for good behaviour, Mary decides to do the same for Joel, but with black marks for all his misdemeanours.

I was expecting this book to be a lot funnier than it was, and in the first half I was thinking this would be a 3/5 book. It was readable, but nothing special. However, once I really got into the story, and Mary stopped sounding like quite so much of a whinger and it became clear that the situation was really making her unhappy, the story improved and became less about amusement and more about a tale of how to work together in a relationship to stop resentment forming. There were still many bits that made me smile, and one particularly shocking bit that made me gasp, and overall I found this a very good read.
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Christina Hopkinson's novel is a wry look at modern-day marriage, totally honest, often funny and at times, alarmingly familiar. All too often it is the tiny irritations in life that make the most impact on how we are feeling; the wet towels left on the floor, the piles of loose change and crumpled tissues on the kitchen table, and yes, the pile of stuff at the bottom of the stairs. Mary decides she has had enough of Joel's laziness and compiles a complicated list that has debits and credits according to his behaviour - if he goes over his allocated credits, then she is thinking about divorce. Only Joel has no idea that the list exists.

At times I got incredibly irritated by Mary's whinges, on the face of it she has a pretty nice life, with a handsome husband, two beautiful children, a part time job that she loves and good friends. I began to ask myself what was the point of all of this. There were other times when I found myself nodding in agreement when she described Joel's annoying habits, but other times I was envious of her, and wishing I had a husband who could rustle up a fabulous meal at the drop of a hat - even if it did mean that he used every pan in the house.

This is a funny read that at times deals with some serious subjects. Mary's friend Mitzi and her husband Michael are two obnoxious characters who take a starring role towards the end of the book, even if it's a toe-curlingly embarrassing scene to read!

An easy read, that doesnt take long and looks at the everyday stresses and strains of life in a humorous and touching way.
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on 27 August 2014
One long whinge, would not recommend this book, flat characters, didn't finish it. Who ever wrote the blurb on the cover and the reviews want their heads feeling.Makes me wonder if people get paid for these, or they write positive reviews
In order to have positive reviews written on their books.As this was a book club choice I felt obliged to really make an effort to Finnish it, It was badly written, implausible characters, the so called humour and insights into family life advertised on the cover was just not there
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on 22 October 2014
Read my full review: http://theedittin.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/review-christina-hopkinsons-pile-of-stuff-at-the-bottom-of-the-stairs/

Picture this, I’m sat at the dining table eating my home-cooked dinner and my husband walks in with Burger King stains on his chin and grease on his ‘dinner jumper’, he’s all smiles. He’s happy to see me after a long day at work (and after a grim fast food stop-off), but there’s fear in his eyes too. I’ve cooked dinner, he’s clearly eaten already, he didn’t let me know he wouldn’t be home for dinner and he hasn’t – I can tell just by looking at him – paid our cheque into the bank. Well, this scene is the embodiment of Hopkinson’s book. Modern, real life marriage.

I’m one of those old-fashioned (but relatively young) people who dash into the Quick Choice section of the library to choose something, anything, to read for their next quick fix. I chose The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs by Christina Hopkinson because it looked like an easy, quick hit. Don’t be deceived by the obvious man versus woman, or more accurately, woman versus man humour, it is laugh-out-loud and, if you’re married, completely believable.

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on 17 April 2011
Enjoyed this a lot, especially the first third. It starts of as a romp with masses of empathy for the main character, (I was constantly saying YES when she described her husband's irritating habits) and some of it made me laugh out loud.

And then just when I was wondering how she was going to sustain the narrative for a whole book, it changed tone and became slightly dark with hints that what had been irritations could now be terminal. This was a neat twist and despite the protagonist taking herself too seriously, it kept me reading.

But the last third was disappointing as it veered wildly into serious self-indulgence and made me dislike the heroine who was, after all, married to a handsome, kind, humourous man who didn't really seem to have any major faults. If the message was intended to be that we should count our blessings, then perhaps it worked, but the denouement wasn't stormy enough - any man I've ever met would have freaked when he discovered the scoring system for his idiosynchrosies that the male ego would have had trouble recovering from. The happy ever after by negotiation just didn't work and I lost interest at the end. Pity. Still worth reading, though.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 20 October 2011
This book is a bit like those reality, fly-on-the-wall type of tv programs, where you can be nosey and look at other people's domestic life. It is a humorous, very well written book. The characters are rounded out with enough detail so as to be credible. I am sure you would recognise the types in your own life.

The story revolves around a middle class couple, Mary and husband Joel. Mary is a very grumpy, domestic-goddess obsessed character who longs for perfection in her life. Her idea of entertainment is to read Ideal Home interior magazines in bed. She wants the perfect well-behaved toddlers (they are not), she wants the perfect husband who shares all the chores and child care duties - he tries his best, but to be honest I could not see any husband come up to her standards.

As she is an organisation addict, she sets up a spreadsheet to highlight each and every domestic 'transgression' her husband makes over a period of six months with the end goal being to decide whether to possibly divorce him or not. Some of her friends are far richer, with huge houses along with nannies and maids they take for granted. She hides her envy, but of course behind the perfect facade, they too, have their foibles, which the book hilariously describes.

Towards the end of the book, the six months is reached and the story must resolve itself. I won't spoil its conclusion, but enough to say the author avoids any farcical drama and treats it with realism.

Overall an excellent, humorous light read in which you will no doubt recognise the faults and foibles of the male species in your own life.
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