Monday, August 11, 2008

Former, Future

Erudite Mondays at HalfSoled Boots
Volume 5 Number 2

Judy Astley

Okay, if you have a few hours to spare in the next several weeks, this one should squeak onto your summer reading list. You've probably got time to read it - it doesn't take long to get through. It's laugh-out-loud funny with just enough unexpected elements to keep you interested.

How does a fifteen-year-old girl do this, Nell wondered. How could Mimi twist her face into something that so clearly expressed incredulity, disdain, disgust - all at the same time and all without losing her essential clear-eyed beauty? Anyone over twenty would look demented. This must have been what Picasso had been going for when he first painted two eyes on the same side of a woman's head.

It's about Nell, a woman who decides, after abruptly becoming a single mother, to seek out her volatile, long-term boyfriend from college. Through her own marriage and children, she has never quite gotten over him. It seems a good chance to pick up the thread she dropped all those years ago and see what happens.

Laying the Ghost (which, by the way, has to win the award for the best book title ever) is like Bridget Jones - 15 Years Later. If Bridget married Mark Darcy, bore him two children, raised them to teenhood then ended up single, she'd Google Daniel Cleaver, I guarantee it. It also reminded me a bit of Tara Road. There was the winsome, somewhat scattered heroine whose point of view is charming, self-deprecating, and hilarious. There was the teenaged daughter, whose emotional journey, I thought, could well be developed into another whole book. There was a hapless group of girlfriends in various stages of partnership and unpartnership, with all their attendant anxieties and idiosyncrasies.

"Kate, no, I really don't need a man. When you've just had Pest Control round, you don't rush out and buy a pet rat."

It's a girly book, and one that I suspect would ring unnervingly true for a lot of women. It's all so realistic: Nell's slightly depressing circumstances, her preoccupation with her former flame, and the steps she takes to find him. It's so funny, though, that you put it down uplifted, rather than the opposite.

Laying the Ghost gets:

Reread? Yes
Given to Others? Yes
Bookplate? No



Annalea said...

Hmmmm . . . this one is a bit tantalizing. I don't have much time to read (lol--what am I thinking--I don't have any time to read right now), but the few hours of escape sure are attractive.

Tabatha said...

I love Erudite Mondays.

lizbon said...

Hmmmn. I detest girly books. Even funny ones. Great review, as always, but I think I'll stick to my current book queue.