Welcome to South London, to one of the nicest streets in one of London's vilest boroughs, a determined middle-class oasis of skips and bay trees, where Volvos sniff each others' bumpers and men called Giles live with women called Samantha. This is a satellite-dish-free zone of tall houses, standing shoulder to shoulder with big front doors, five floors apiece. Come inside, shut the door and smell the coffee: you could almost be in Kensington. This is where the actors, writers and media types live, where small children wearing smart uniforms and shoes in the shape of lightbulbs get ferried every day to schools that are not local. Some people are luckier than others; fortune smiles on some and gobs on the rest. Jo Metcalf (no. 95) smokes and spies on the smug Cunninghams down the street as they play their bile-inducing game of happy families. Why is the grass greener on the other side of the fence? But happiness is a fragile thing and hairline cracks in a perfect world can become craters of misery. Each story is full of comic insight and realistic observation of contemporary British life and focuses on the very different lives of a set of characters living in the same street.
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(199mm x 130mm x 28mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Don't be misled by the pink and turquoise cover or the whimsical subtitle ('a novel of life, love and shagging the plumber'), this is not one of those semi-literate, striving-for-hilarious-effect messes by exhibitionistic young women who think lots of swearing and shagging makes up for a complete lack of talent in the writing department. Though primarily known as a comic, Jenny Eclair should give that up immediately and take to novel-writing full time, if this laugh-out-loud funny, cleverly plotted and acutely observant first effort is anything to go by. The intertwined lives of two middle-class housewives in a gentrified south London street are recounted chapter by chapter by the two women - revealing starkly different versions of the supposed friendship that involves shared dinners, holiday and childcare - and by the omniscient narrator. Jo's jolly, practical, no-nonsense, always-willing-to-help persona curdles into resentful doormat, and every woman will recognise the feelings of fury and frustration that having a 'friend' like Anna's cool, slim, sexy, careless, bitch evoke. The minor characters, especially the children are also both original and credible. The comedy of bourgeous manners - which encompasses a coke-snorting husband and a gay son - descends into something darker and more troubling as the maddening and gorgeous Anna starts to pay the price for her selfishness and Eclair shows just how far one can fall from middle class respectability. Gripping, intelligent and always entertaining. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Jenny Eclair
Jenny Eclair remains the sole female to win the prestigious Perrier Award for Comedy at the Edinburgh Festival. This is her first novel.