Saturday, 7 February 2015

As Good As It Gets - Fiona Gibson

About the book...

Charlotte Bristow is worried about her husband Will. Their fourteen years of marriage have been rather lovely so far, but things have been a bit odd lately.

With their stunning 16-year-old daughter Rosie newly signed to a top modelling agency and Will recently out of a job, Charlotte can’t help but notice that things are changing in their household.

As Will dusts down his old leather trousers and starts partying with their new, fun neighbours, Charlotte begins to wonder what on earth is going on.

So when Fraser, Charlotte’s ex – and father of Rosie – suddenly arrives back on the scene, Charlotte starts to wonder what might have been…

About the author...

Fiona is an author and journalist who has written for many UK publications including The Observer, The Guardian, Marie Claire, Red, New Woman, Top Sante and Elle. She writes a monthly column for Sainsbury’s magazine and is a Contributing Editor at Red magazine.

Fiona lives in Scotland with her husband, their twin sons and daughter. She likes to draw, run 10k races, play her saxophone and lie in the bath with a big glass of wine, although not all at once. 

My thoughts...

I was given a copy of this book, published by Avon by Olivia Wilson at Lightbrigade PR in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.

What a book - Fiona has written a novel that reads like a fly on the wall documentary from a real home.  She could have done the research for this book in any number of homes across the country, my own included!

Fiona has created characters that get under your skin, they really could be people you know. Charlotte the mother of the household is trying to hold the family together.  She's running on her last bit of steam and the tension oozes from her like steam from an iron. Will, her husband has lost is job and has turned into an apathetic mess, putting a meal on the table each day is as much as he seems able to do. Rosie is very clearly a typical teenager with hormones bouncing all over the place and baby brother Ollie is managing to stay under the radar - not because he is perfect but because there is so much else going on he's hardly noticed.

Fiona has done an outstanding job, this book could so easily have been heavy going but it wasn't at all. It tackles so many everyday issues such as teenagers and their anxieties, unemployment, infidelity, jealousy and separation, all of them happening to the one family at the same time! The humour is the counterbalance, lifting the story when needed. 

For the first half of the book I just thought it was a nice read, a what I'd call 'pick up, put down' book, it had me laughing out loud and 'oh I remember thating' to myself several times at the same time as thinking how many awful things can happen to one family.  I had to love Charlotte though, no matter what she always managed to pull 'the face' out of the bag and tried to put a positive spin on things.  She was always just slightly out of sync though and never quite getting it right despite her best intentions - the funniest incident involving fishing waders, creosote and a torch had me literally howling out loud.

The relationship of Rosie and Charlotte really touched a nerve as I know it will to anybody who is, or has been parent to a teenager.  They want to shop with you, but not be seen with you, it's the purse that's important!  And, please tell me, what is the attraction of shopping in the dark?  I'm weird apparently because I don't get it :D

The second half of the book, gathered pace and Fiona really took hold of the characters, adding more depth and definition, allowing the reader an insight into who they really were and their true feelings. There are some very touching moments that pull at the heart strings.  But, there are still some very funny moments in this half that help to break the building tension. There are some hard decisions made and I thoroughly enjoyed taking the journey with them.  Life isn't always about happy endings, hearts and flowers but time, space and understanding go a long way along the road towards it.  

If you're looking for a story about real people, with real problems and situations, that demonstrate the power of humour and family then this is a book for you - perfect for a lazy Sunday, snuggled in your pj's in the conservatory. Thank you so much Fiona for a most enjoyable read.

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