Normally I read solely crime and thrillers but after finishing Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre at the end of 12 days off work and 5 books read, I didn't want to read. I'd lost my mojo. On the fourth day I felt something was amiss with not reading for that time and a good friend, Sarah Hardy of By The Letter Book Reviews suggested a change of genre might what I need. Remembering I had one of Christie Barlow's books sat on my kindle, I decided to give it a try! So glad I did, I devoured it in less than 24 hours and I think my mojo had returned!
I knew exactly what the author was talking about as I read Misadventures; I've been there with a stinking hangover dealing with the kids, school's constant reminders about nits and the "school trip voluntary contributions" - Barlow puts it perfectly "We all knew voluntary doesn’t mean voluntary..."
The characters are those you expect to meet in life, if not in the playground. Penelope is the epitome of that friend we all have who takes and doesn't give, the one who thinks they can get away with it. And we all have that friend Melanie, a chance meeting that turns into a firm friendship with no agenda other than all the things that come with that sort of relationship.
One part of the book really stood out for me for the comedy value, the frisky-pensioner's funeral. Yes funerals are no laughing matter but when you read the description "Human rhubarb and custard" and the crematorium puts possibly the most apt but rather inappropriate rock song on as the casket is taken away, you have to laugh!!
Christie Barlow definitely knows how to write a light-hearted entertaining read. Even though it is marketed as chick lit and there is romance interwoven into some of the story threads, it's certainly not a romance novel which in my mind (rightly or wrongly) is what I expect chick lit to be.
I'll be reading more from Christie Barlow, well I had promised myself earlier this year that I would explore the authors on Bookouture's books who didn't write crime. If Christie's book is anything to go by, I'll have plenty of authors to try when I need some light relief from the dark side of crime and thrillers.
Having read Christie's first novel A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother I was keen to read the follow on - The Misadventures of Playground Mother. I pre-ordered on Amazon for publication day and then life got in the way, one thing after another stopped me picking it up to read until now. This is a follow on book but could equally be read as a stand - alone. I had high expectations and I wasn't let down in fact I loved this book more. I didn't think it was possible for an author to keep me laughing out loud as much as she did in her previous novel, that was just hilarious - in fact I told her I nearly died laughing, it was pure comedy gold. This time Christie raised the bar, it wasn't just a humorous look at playground antics and life in a small community. This time there was hilarity alongside real life, a cast of people displaying a full spectrum of emotions that couldn't fail to touch the heart.
This novel sees Rachel finding an ally in new neighbour Melanie, someone to counter balance the high maintenance of Penelope, Rupert and their brood of children. As ever Rachel and her good nature / doormat nature finds herself caught up in the pantomime that is Penelope and Rupert's marriage. I think I would be in prison now for killing her, from here on in I shall refer to Rachel as Saint Rachel - that woman hasn't a bad bone in her body.
Christie Barlow's ability to create characters that seem real, like people you'd come across in real life like is amazing. She had me laughing, then silently raging only to find myself close to tears as the story unfolded and back to howling out loud again. I truly never thought I'd ever get past the OMG moments with this friendship circle but was pleasantly surprised to find a touch of harsh reality within the pages that shook my first impressions of all the characters and made me see beneath the facades.
A fab book that left me thankful that despite the fact that I have many friends who are quite bonkers they all seem quite normal in comparison - although I do feel quite sad to be leaving these characters behind. I'd love to be a fly on the wall, sitting in the village pub listening and watching the antics for real. A highly recommended fun read.
.. filled with completely unlikable and un relatable characters. The main character is weak and spineless, and the main protagonist is detestable. Not good ingredients for a good comedy. Couldnt even get half way through the book.
As a mum who spent years at the school gates, and on the PTA, I could so relate to the two books in the school gates series. Rachel is so tongue in cheek - a lot like me! Though I wouldn't have the patience she has with Penelope - it made for many laugh out loud moments. Love the author's style of writing too. Her characters are really well written.
Oh I loved this book. I think Rachel is hilarious. Could read about her antics all day long (as if she's real lol). Had me laughing and crying in equal measures. I hope we are going to be reading more from Rachel.