Amanda's Handmade Life is a chick-lit novel by Amanda Addison. The book was released in the United Kingdom in June 2011 and so the book is very recent. This book is currently available to buy from Amazon for a price of £4.40, although I managed to get my copy as part of a "3 books for £5" offer at The Works.
~ * The Plot * ~
Meet Laura Love grove. Her husband has just taken a job as an Architect in rural Norfolk, which means that Laura and her two children have to move to the countryside. Laura is a designer of vintage items, although will her sewing be able to save her family? Read Laura's Handmade Life to find out.
I am so glad to have finished this book! I found it to be such a drag but because I had started reading it and had already gone through a few chapters, I wasn't for giving in, even if it was a struggle.
The author doesn't half go on with her gibberish. There is so much 'information' to take in, but the thing is that it isn't any 'interesting information'. All the 'writing in the book' is the description of what item of clothing someone is wearing or about an item they had when they were a child or something they have made. It's not clear at all and half the time I was reading, I didn't have a clue what she was on a bout.
I think that the blurb is very misleading. It gives the impression that the book is very exciting and full of drama. It was this exciting blurb that made me buy the book. However, when I read the book there wasn't much of a plot and all of the 'big dramas' mentioned in the blurb wasn't as big as issue in the story. It was all like 'our house went on fire that day - and then I saw a lady in the street wearing a home-made dress'.
The book is written in the first person; Laura is the main character. I really did not like Laura; I thought that she came across as being really boring and just a little bit obsessed with sewing. I couldn't connect with her and she just really annoyed me. Her husband Adi was no better either; being all moody and silly.
I found that there were far too many characters in the book. I think because the storyline didn't go into too much depth as it was all about what the main character Laura had been sewing that day etc, we didn't get a chance to really get to know the characters. So by the end of the book I still wasn't sure who everyone was and so I found it really confusing.
I read a lot of chick-lit and a lot of the characters I read about are in their twenties and thirties, however I thought that this book was really mature; too mature for me even though the character was in their thirties. Mature reader may be interested to know that the book isn't all about 'finding Mr Right' but is more about 'sorting their lives out' and so people may find this easy to relate to.
I would say that if you like art and sewing....a lot then you will probably like this book. However for me it came across a being a bit to obsessive. The characters highlight of the day would be seeing a woman walking on the other side of the street with a bag with a badge on it or something like that; it was all just a bit too obsessive that Laura came across as being quite crazy. I think the only 'normal' character in the book was Prada the dog.
Another thing which I didn't like about this book was the fact that it kept jumping around all of the time. For example, it would be something like this: One minute it was like ; I looked out of the window and the sun was rising. It was a beautiful morning........I was chopping the vegetables for the children's tea etc. So a lot of the time, I wasn't really sure 'where I was'.
If you like sewing and art then I would recommend this to you, however if not, keep away from it! It is one of the worst books I have ever read and seemed more like a 'first draft' rather than 'the real thing'.
Thank you for reading!
Xdonzx / xd-o-n-z-x
Laura Lovegrove has been left a little shell-shocked after her sudden upheaval from her lovely home in London to their run down cottage in Norfolk due to her husband's job demands. Laura wasn't expecting everything that comes with country life - nosy neighbours, the sudden inclusion of a pet into their home and a cottage that is falling apart around their ears. Not to mention the fact that Laura's ex Chris is surprisingly on the scene, and looking pretty handsome too. When the cottage and Laura's fashion collection is destroyed by a fire, she decides to set about making things out of the items she can save and quickly becomes a hit around the village. But while her job is becoming successful, her relationship with hubby Adi is dwindling. Will Laura be able to sew her family back together again, and make a success of her business too?
This book is author Amanda Addison's debut, and one I have been looking forward to for a while. The quirky patchwork style cover has a good look about it, and I liked the idea of a book based around sewing and homemade craft. I was a little worried when Leah posted on Goodreads that she'd had to give up on it after 100 pages, but decided to persevere and form my own opinion about it. Unfortunately, by the end I was pleased that it was all over and was really disappointed with what I had read given my high expectations of the book. It was a combination of factors which caused me not to enjoy this read, from the extremely annoying and aggravating main character to the poor narrative and bad cohesion throughout. I also can't help but wonder if this was written just to suit the "craft" market and ethos that is out there at the moment.
Our lead character is Laura, and someone I really disliked from the beginning. You easily forget she is a thirty-something mother of two and a wife but she acts like a petulant teenager and there really isn't anything likeable about her at all. She whinges constantly about her move from London to the country, finding fault in everything but not balancing that with a positive at all. It comes across as very childish and makes Laura someone you don't want to hear from, which is a major problem when she is narrating the book, and it's written in the first person. Saying that, her husband Adi wasn't much better. He's a very weak male character, doesn't add a great deal to the book and I didn't really care about his relationship with Laura either. It didn't set me up for a very enjoyable read, having to plough through text about characters I didn't care about.
One thing I have to mention is that this author seems to have an obsession with yurts! Seriously, I had no idea what a yurt was until I googled it after reading it literally a hundred times in this book (after which I still couldn't visualise what a flippin' yurt was!), and I don't know why this has to be hammered home so much. In fact, the mention of the yurt grated on my nerves so much, I wanted to skip past any scenes involving it, it was just over the top and really annoying. Laura has this beautiful cottage to live in and all she does is moan about the yurt, you just want to tell her to shut up about the yurt and talk about something else! Addison chooses to make yurts Adi's obsession too, so it is double overkill!
Another thing that irked me was the start of each chapter. There is a small description of a stitch of some sort, but instead of putting a picture of that stitch so readers can become intersted and perhaps attempt it themselves, there is a generic picture of a needle and thread which is totally unrelated to the stitch. It's a shame the extra effort couldn't have been made to tie this up (excuse the pun!!) neatly with a picture that corresponds with the text. A lot of Laura's technical work was well described but just looked hideous in my head - I couldn't imagine myself wanting anything she made and I found it hard to visualise quite a few of her ideas too, perhaps that is my own downfall though!
I would have liked to have seen a lot more of Laura's teaching job at the college, and feel this story was woefully underused in the book. I felt the pace and overall mood of the book really picked up when Laura's classes were the topic of the book, and I very much liked reading about her interactions with the young pupils and the class ideas. I simply didn't have the interest in Laura's job at home of designing that I did in her teaching job which was a shame as one was definitely more prevalent over the other in the book, unfortunately not the weighting I would have liked! I also found the inclusion of a family pet into the book to happen a bit too suddenly and perfectly, like everything seemed to fall into place for Laura a little too easily. Laura moans about being so broke yet suddenly has the finances to acquire a dog and all that goes along with it, it just didn't add up and was yet another annoying factor to add to the list.
Overall, I really can't recommend this book as I found it a chore to read and really disliked the main character who was just so unlikeable. It isn't especially well written, with scenes jumping about too much and not having a clear link between things leaving the readers to fill in the huge blanks by themselves. I didn't find the narrative overly great idea, especially as Laura was the narrator and all she seemed to do was moan like a teenager, not acting like an adult and mother. The crafty things in the book were constantly present, but didn't grasp my interest that much, and I found it hard to imagine a lot of Laura's "creations". I shan't go into the yurt obsession again but you know my thoughts on that. A disappointing debut that I really struggled with. Not recommended.
ISBN: 978-0751545340. Published by 23rd June 2011. Pages: 432. RRP: £6.99.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitreviews.com
Thank you for reading.