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This is a review of the book "Mad about the boy" by Maggie Alderson. It was a reluctant read after the disappointment of reading her other book "Pants on Fire" a few years ago but I gave it a go and am glad to say it was a slightly better read than her first book.
Setting the scene...
Mad about the boy begins dramatically, with lead character Antonia, who has just moved to Australia to live with her husband (Hugo) and young son. I'm not giving much away when I mention that Antonia is deserted by said husband because he's gay and has a new boyfriend (that's right at the beginning anyway).
Her life with her son Tom is difficult at first as she faces the stigma of the Australian ladies who launch who know all about her and her circumstances. Fortunately, Antonia and Tom are joined by the outrageous Uncle Percy who sets about helping Antonia make a new life for herself. Cue a new boyfriend, a thriving business and a new slim body to die for, you are rooting for Antonia throughout the book.
Lots is happening at the same time in this book so it did make me read it quite quickly. There's lots of guessing going on as the plot twists and turns and you wonder why everyone's being so mysterious!
Could have guessed...
Frankly, the way Antonia describes her husband when she met him at University twelve years previous, you would have had a screaming gaydar alarm going off in your head so the warning signs were there.
James, Antonia's boyfriend. Only once did I doubt his integrity when he rescued her from some muggers and took advantage of her shaky legs and gratitude, but it seemed genuine enough.
I didn't like...
The way the other wives treated Antonia who was lonely in a new country, on her own and just needed some support. To be accused of stealing other's husbands etc was just rude.
I didn't get...
The bit in the gym when two of the wives were making a display of getting changed for the security camera. It never made sense in the book why they actually did that but maybe I missed the point.
Would I recommend?
Well, it's not the best book I've ever read but it passed the time of day. I would say it's better for an unchallenging poolside read more than something you'd really enjoy galloping through but was good enough.
The book had enough to keep me interested but at the same time left me feeling that I wouldn't pursue any further books by this author. Sorry but it's just not my kind of read I guess.
Mad About The Boy is Maggie Alderson's second novel (her first being Pants on Fire). A year after Hugo and Antonia move to Sydney, Hugo announces he's gay and also has a boyfriend (Greg). He leaves Antonia alone in her adopted city with only her son, Tom, and food for comfort. Not only that but all of her friends seem to have deserted her. Then along comes Hugo's outrageous Uncle Percy who sends Antonia to the gym. There she meets the mysterious James but what on Earth is he hiding?
I loved Mad About The Boy. I enjoy reading books set in country's I've never visited (but would like to!) as I usually get a great picture of said place. This book was set in Sydney and I liked the descriptions of Woollahra. It's a really well written book and I loved Antonia.
It's another book written in first person, which works for me! I enjoyed reading about Antonia's thoughts after Hugo's revelation. I felt her ups and her downs with her and I was thrilled when Uncle Percy showed up and whipped her into shape by sending her to the gym. I also enjoyed how drawn-out the relationship between Antonia and James was - it didn't just happen, they got to know each other before getting into a relationship. We also didn't have to wait until the last page either!
Uncle Percy was probably my favourite character. He was outrageous, outlandish and just plain fun. Everyone should have an Uncle like Percy. He didn't care what anybody else thought of it, and he didn't take himself too seriously either. He made the book for me!
I also loved James and couldn't help trying to guess exactly why he was so mysterious. His revelation came as a surprise and also added a darker element to the book. Everything involving him was dark and mysterious and yet was still enjoyable.
Of the minor characters, I quite liked Dee, Antonia's only friend after Suzy abandoned her. Of course that's all to do with the darker element of the plot so we find out why she abandoned Antonia. I found Hugo both nice and irritating. His treatment of James wasn't very nice. I hated Greg for a while but he seemed OK in the end. I thought Tom didn't really feature much but I liked his scenes with kung-foo man (James) as Tom called him!
Another thing I loved was Anteeks (which by the way is a brilliant name), the shop Antonia opens. It sounds like a great idea for a shop and I loved all the needlepoint phrases Antonia thought up.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable novel and is well worth a read. I enjoyed the mysterious part of the plot as well, it all added to the enjoyment of the novel.