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Life, Death and Vanilla Slices - Jenny Eclair

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Author: Jenny Eclair / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 15 August 2013 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group / Title: Life, Death and Vanilla Slices / ISBN 13: 9780751547559 / ISBN 10: 0751547559 / Alternative EAN: 9781847444936

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      07.09.2013 19:25
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      A first class read

      This was a book that I bought totally on a whim - I was browsing Waterstones one afternoon a couple of weeks ago and saw this included in their buy one get one half price offer. The normal retail price for the paperback version was £7.99 and the only thing that attracted me to it was the author, Jenny Eclair. Jenny Eclair is famous for being a comedian and her TV appearances including being on 'Grumpy Old Women' and on 'Loose Women'. She is someone that I've found quite funny in the past as I think she has a dry sense of humour.

      Plot
      The story centres around two characters, Anne, who lives in London with her family and leads a comfortable life and her mother, Jean, who lives in Blackpool. Jean also has another daughter called Jess and she always showed favouritism towards her when her children were young, but Jess ran away from home a long time ago. Jean is involved in an road traffic accident and she ends up in a coma. Anne makes the journey up North to be by her side and we hear their stories from the past from both Anne and Jean's point's of view. Intermittent characters include Anne's sister Jess, Anne's sons, her husband Paul and as the story progresses we see many twists and turns. From early on in the book, we realise that Anne's life is now very different from her mother's. Anne is married, living a comfortable life with her family around her yet her mother Jean now lives alone with few friends.

      My Opinion
      I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was a little sceptical at first but I am so glad I gave it a go as it wouldn't normally have been one I'd have chosen based on the plot. I can honestly say though it is one of the best books I've ever read. It was purely the author I chose it for and not the plot but halfway through I'd completely forgotten who the writer was because I became so engrossed in the story.

      Jenny Eclair's dry sense of humour shines throughout the book - there are plenty of little one liners included here that make some of the story light hearted and totally believable. The story could go from making me laugh at loud one moment and have me on the verge of tears the next as there were more serious aspects covered too. The whole flow of the book worked brilliantly and I was wanting to read chapter after chapter.

      Even though the one liners are funny, they didn't detract away from the main story which sometimes I feel can happen with books written by comedians - with this though, that was definitely second to a great plot. Anne's role as a mother in her family unit is so believable that I found myself drawn into the book from the first chapter, when usually it takes me at least four or five chapters to feel any sort of attachment. Her relationship with her children and husband just seemed so typical and inkeeping with a lot of families and as the story carried on we delve more into her complex relationship with her mother, something I was very intrigued to find out about. I felt close to Anne but just as close to Jean - I found them both to be endearing and characters that I wanted to find so much more about. I couldn't put the book down for this reason.

      The book is split into small chapters, something else that I love in a book. They are mostly only four or five pages long - perfect to me because I like to finish at a definite point. With this, I felt it was nicely spaced which allowed me to read at my own pace. The only thing that upset me was when I realised I didn't have much more of the book to read as I wanted it to go on! Having said that though, I felt that everything was covered perfectly - I wasn't left thinking that there were loose ends that needed to be explored more. Each chapter is told from a character's point of view but their stories and viewpoints on past experiences intertwined so we would hear Anne's take on a time and then Jean's viewpoint on the same thing. The twists and turns are fantastic and there were at least three times that I was completely shocked at where the story next took me.

      The only very minor downside about the paperback version is the size of font. The writing is very small and although that usually puts me off books, I continued and after a couple of chapters I couldn't care less - I think that speaks for itself.

      Conclusion
      I would definitely recommend this book, it has been such an endearing, entertaining and serious read rolled into one with a few twists and turns. The characters are totally believable and that to me is what makes this such a great book. I believed what was going on and I believed that this could have been a real relationship between mother and daughter. I've rated the book 5 stars as I enjoyed it that much, I don't feel that taking one off for the smaller print would be fair.

      Available in Hardback, paperback and e-versions. I bought the paperback in Waterstones for £7.99.
      ISBN-10: 1847444938
      ISBN-13: 978-1847444936
      Published by Sphere (5th July 2012)

      Thanks for reading :o)

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