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My Legendary Girlfriend - Mike Gayle

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Author: Mike Gayle / Genre: Fiction

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      17.10.2011 18:27
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      Excellent read

      When you have just been dumped and you feel like rubbish, this is the book for you. You can empathise with the main character's bitterness and then laugh at his crazy thoughts.

      Basically, the bloke whose point of view the book is written from is called Will, he is an ex film student, working as a teacher (a job which he hates) and lives in a studio flat in North London (which he also hates) and his only lifeline to the world is his telephone from which he gets phone calls from his best mate Simon (who he hates a little bit), Alice (who is way beyond his league and he secretly fancies but could never actually fancy because she is too amazing) and Martina (the one-night stand who he keeps trying to get off the phone).

      The way this book is written is with biting sarcasm and a very clear insight into a human's mind when they are in a state of grief like his.. even though Aggi (his ex) left him 3 years ago and he still pathetically is not over it and he daydreams about the day she broke up with him and fantasizes about her coming back to him. It is written very vividly and aptly seeing as the author Mike Gayle was an Agony Uncle.

      I could read this over and over and over. Gets me giggling on the bus and people look at me strangely....

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        29.05.2011 17:40
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        It'll never be a film

        I've just finished reading this book, it took me about 3 days, and usually that means I have thoroughly enjoyed the book because I couldn't put it down. But in this case I think it means that I found it quite dull, and just wanted to get it over and done with.

        Will Kelly is 26, and an English teacher, but more importantly he is an ex-boyfriend - his beloved girlfriend, Aggi, dumped him 3 years ago - yes that's 3 whole years ago; and he still hasn't gotten over it, his heart is still very much in two pieces. He lives in a grimy bedsit with only himself and the telephone for company. He doesn't seem to have any friends apart from Alice (who sounds very nice but who is also in a long term relationship), and Simon (a wannabe rock star who is also a self obsessed idiot). One other person features in the book, and this is the girl (Kate) who used to reside in the flat where Will now lives.

        The book starts on a Friday evening, and ends on a Monday, so as you may have guessed the entire contents of the book are based upon one weekend, and most of it is spent in Will's flat. To begin with I found Will's character tiresome, I thought the prospect of reading about some broken hearted slob was going to be very dull, especially since his heart was broken 3 years ago and his wounds were still fresh. To me Will seemed like a complete idiot who was wallowing in self pity; I had no sympathy for him and could well understand why he had very few friends. Most of the book was based around his grotty flat and the fact that he couldn't even be bothered to make himself a sandwich, never mind get himself washed and dressed.

        Kate, the girl who used to live in his flat rings him to check for any post that may have been left for her and then by chance, a telephone relationship begins between these two strangers. I found this quite hard to believe because if I had found Will on the other end of the telephone I would have told him to get a life, and long since hung up, but their phone conversations lasted hours, and were usually nondescript; but nonetheless a fledgling relationship develops. In his conversations with Kate, you realise that Will is in fact some sort of self hater, and probably needs clinical help.

        Over the course of the weekend you begin to understand Will's relationship with Alice (his best friend) and Simon (his other best friend), and these are two very different people and while he seems to be unable to live without one of these people, he could more than definitely live without the other, but these two characters play quite a small role in the book, and only pop up every now and then, although they both do play quite major roles in life changing events for Will.

        As the book draws to a close there is a very neat conclusion which I had already kind of predicted but nevertheless found it satisfying, if not a little bit obvious. But what ever happened, I was pleased to have finished the book.

        To be honest, the book was okay; it was easy to read and didn't boggle the mind, and I did laugh out loud once. But some parts I found confusing where Will is daydreaming about the past, then all of a sudden you are back in present day, but the transition is not obvious and sometimes I was left wondering whether I was reading about the past or present, but this only happened a couple of times. But I just couldn't shake off the feeling that men like this don't really exist...do they? He had spent 3 years wallowing in his own grief about the fact that he'd been dumped, and he seriously could not get over it. Who spends 3 years pining for someone who dumped you?! It just doesn't make sense; perhaps I'm just heartless...

        ISBN 0-340-71816-1
        352 Pages
        RRP £6.99
        Currently £4.74 on Amazon (May 2011)

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          10.04.2010 15:01
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          This is only the second book that I have read of Mike Gayles, and to be honest it wasn't really as good as I was expecting it to be. The first book I read of his called new best friend, which had a runnong theme of the difficulty of making new firends in your thirties. This book, also has a connection with the topic of friends.

          The main character in this book is called Will Kelly. He is an English teacher, who has only recently started this new job. This story tells the tale of a man who finds it difficult to get into a proper 'grown-up relationship, since he split with his girlfriend of three years Aggi. Since the split he has found it very difficult to move on from her, and start dating other women.

          The story, goes on to tell, us all about, his friends possible girlfriends, and old flatmates, who could all possibly be smeone who he spends the rest of his life with (in his head). He also starts having long, but quite random conversations with the girl his flat used to belong to, something which is quite unusual I think, and it also tells us about his familt in quite alot of detail.

          The book is split up in such a way that it gives the feeling of it being in a sort of diary style, it notes down all of the comings and goings of will's life by going through each chapter at a different time as it goes through his average weekend. As this book goes through just three days, starting with friday and going on to sunday (his birthday).

          This book took me the grand total of two days to read (less time than the first book) so there fore I would have to reccomend to buy it (or get it out of your local library) as it is a brilliantly good read, and will keep you obsorbed frot he wholle time your reading it. As I said I got it from the library, but You can also get it from amazon for £5.99, which I think is a bargain!

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            08.04.2010 21:29
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            Mike Gayle's first novel

            I have read many books by Mike Gayle and have always thoroughly enjoyed them mainly due to his down to earth male perspective on life. Strangely though, until recently, I had not read his debut novel, My legendary Girlfriend, but I have now rectified that. I do think though that it is sometimes a risk to go back and read earlier novels from favourite authors, who often have developed as writers and their first books are sometimes a disappointment. Fortunately this was not the case with Mike Gayle as I loved My Legendary Girlfriend and as a consequence read it over just a couple of days.

            The main character in this book is Will Kelly whose life has not been that great since he was dumped by his ex girlfriend Aggi three years ago on his birthday. Will has now recently but quite unenthusiastically, started a job as an English teacher in a North London comprehensive school. It is now the weekend and his birthday is approaching. With little to look forward to and without any friends local to him, it looks like Will is destined to spend a weekend wallowing in self pity!

            The entire book only takes place over this one weekend and mainly centres on Will doing very little except having numerous phone calls. His friend Alice calls and also sends some unusual gifts for his birthday. Martina, a girl he only went out with once the previous weekend also calls declaring undying love which is the last thing Will wants to hear. There are family phone calls wishing him a happy birthday and in one desperate moment he also calls Aggi. (Judging from her reaction this was not the best idea!) Also, Kate, the previous tenant of Will's shabby bedsit calls wanting to know if any post has arrived for her. They chat for a while and there really seems to be a connection between the two of them. Could it be that Kate is just what Will needs to put Aggi firmly in the past or is she really destined to be his 'legendary girlfriend'?

            I loved the way this book was written and I thought that Will made a brilliant central character. The book is written in the first person which means that the reader really has the chance to get inside Will's head and share all his ramblings and musing. You can sympathise with the way that everything seems to conspire against him - even down to the fact that he can't even chat the local barmaid up over his pint!

            The book is divided up into the different days of the weekend and it is written in the chatty conversational tone of a diary. The weekend is also broken down under the different times that things happen so you can sort of see how slowly Will's weekend is dragging. It is all told with a lot of good natured humour and the way that Will's mind works is often very funny. He has an interesting way of thinking too - especially about the concept of the 'legendary girlfriend'. His definition of this is that one's legendary girlfriend is the 'one' that is meant to be there for you forever and no one else will ever be able to take their place. It's quite a sad way of looking at it really but I guess that most of us have probably also had a legendary boyfriend or girlfriend at some time! Will poor Will ever be able to move on though.

            My Legendary Girlfriend is an immensely enjoyable and absorbing read. You could argue that not a lot happens but then perhaps that is what this book is all about - the inertia of an unrequited love! At just over three hundred page sit probably won't take very long to read at all.

            My legendary Girlfriend is currently available in paperback from Amazon for £5.99 (April 2010).

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              08.03.2010 17:18
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              A disappointing debut, thankfully Gayle's later books are a much better read.

              I quite like a read of Mike Gayle books. In general they are easy to read and this suits me as I can be quite an impatient reader. Gayle's books are written from a male perspective (of course) and could be thought of as the male equivalent to 'chick lit'. I have heard the term 'dude and lad lit' banded about. I think the books cater for both men and women though. Men can nod along in agreement with a lot of the subject matter whilst women get a chance to delve into the male mind and gain an insight into the male perspective (if they so desire).

              My Legendary Girlfriend is Mike Gayle's debut novel, published in 1999. The book was written in a similar way to how a diary would be written. Gayle didn't re write or re read what he had previously written. Each day he'd simply add something new and he kept this going until he finally came to the end of the story. Once completed though he did re write the story a total of eleven times before sending it to an agent. I don't want to give anything away so I will not mention any information that can not be found on either the back of the book or in its initial pages.

              The main character and narrator is London living Will Kelly who is a secondary school English teacher. After three years Will is still majorly hung up on his ex girlfriend, Aggi. He thought she was 'the one' but she dumped him out of the blue on his 23rd birthday. Problem is she remains to be his idea of the perfect women, meaning nobody can possibly measure up to the legend that is Aggi. Nope, she's right up there on that high pedestal. The book plays out over a four day time period - Friday evening to Monday afternoon. This is the weekend of Will's 26th birthday. During this time we get to learn a lot about Will and the thoughts that go round in his head. At times, some of the observations he makes are accurate and amusing and as a bloke I can relate to them. We also get to see Will's relationship with the other three women in his life. There is Alice who remembers his birthday, Martina with whom he had a one night stand and Kate who was the previous tenant of the flat in which Will lives.

              The story is definitely not fast paced, far from it. In fact is takes an incredibly long time to get going (that's if ever does) so much so I gave up on it twice before finally sticking it out. If you are looking for thrills and spills they won't be found here. I don't want to sound cruel but some would say Will's situation is all a bit pathetic, which I would be inclined to agree with. I did initially feel sympathetic towards him. I can well understand the pain of having your heart broken and the variety of emotions and behaviour that result from this. But after three years Will's behaviour continues and along with it the extreme bleakness, which I did find quite hard to understand. Maybe, I'm just being mean but a lot of Will's problems seemed be as a result of Will himself. He comes across as a moaning miserable grump. I do think he is all too aware of his behaviour but he just can't seem to help himself.

              I get the feeling Gayle is trying to demonstrate that male heartbreak can equally be full of despair and whilst it does demonstrate a level of honesty I admire, I just can't get away from the fact that it all seems a bit ridiculous. We do eventually see Will's character develop and the pace pick up in order for the book to reach a conclusion. Unfortunately, because Will irritated me it was difficult to really root for him and truly want him to achieve happiness, because I just didn't care enough about him.

              I believe the book has been frequently compared to Bridget Jones's Diary as the male equivalent. Of course that was written from a female perspective where as this is from a male. I'm not really sure how accurate this comparison is. There are definitely some similarities in that both books are a humorous look at love and the quest to live happily ever after. Yes, I'm a bloke and I do like happily ever afters (of course only if it's the right ending for the character). But this is where the similarity ends. The characters of Will and Bridget couldn't be further apart. Will's humour is pretty bleak yet I found the character of Bridget likeable and endearing and fairly easy to root for.

              For me, this book fails to show Gayle's true writing talent. Though it has to be said I think his writing style has improved vastly since his debut novel. Whilst I can't recommend this book I can recommend some of his other titles such as: Mr Commitment and Dinner for Two.

              My Legendary Girlfriend currently available to buy on Amazon for £5.99
              Paperback: 368 pages
              Publisher: Flame; 4 Feb 1999
              ISBN-10: 0340718161
              ISBN-13: 978-0340718162

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                21.03.2008 19:40
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                Great easy to read Lad Lit

                I, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, am not a very well read individual. I have a grade 'C' in English Literature GCSE, and have to ask my wife the meaning of 'big words' on a fairly regular basis. Basically I'd struggle on Countdown. Suzi Dent would look down on me (well Suzi always strikes me as a nice lady, she'd probably disguise her disdain to safeguard my feelings).

                But don't get me wrong, I'm not looking for your pity or sympathy, I'm not an idiot (believe it or not). I can do mathematics to a slightly above average level (I would do ok at the numbers bits on Countdown, 'One from the top and five from anywhere of your choosing Carol', and boyish wink to camera. Not so smug now are you Dent!) and I can programme the timer on pretty much any video recorder that's put in front of me, I'm just a bit rubbish with the English language n'stuff. By the way this little review preamble is just to set the scene before I take on my next book review.

                So a couple of months ago I made a conscious decision to improve the standard of my literature intake. I had a look around Amazon to see what I could buy. I browsed the genre's - 'Classics' - yes, some classic literature that's what I need. But hang on, maybe if I struggle with today's language, writing from over 100 years ago is going to be a bit much for me. One step at a time David, one step at a time.

                'Modern Classics' - now that's more like it. It's modern so there'll be none of this 'And foresuth Guinevere did but hark whence Heratio's carriage was upon thee' (I know what you're thinking, yes I did have to bribe the examinations board for that grade C in English Literature) type malarkey. But it still has 'Classics' in its title so it ticks the culture box. Sadly at this point I got distracted by one of the other genres, 'Lad Lit', and I forgot about my Classics quest.

                To those of you who have never encountered the phenomenon of Lad Lit (I'd never heard of it before, but then I don't think I've ever mentioned this but I'm not a very well read...) it's quite obviously the male version of 'Chick Lit' - lady books which have a central woman character who will meet a number of men, including one who will be instantly obvious as the man she's meant to be with for the rest of her life, but things just don't seem to quite happen and it looks like they never will. And then in the last chapter of course they do get together and live happily ever after, and we've all had a lovely time getting to the wonderfully predictable ending. Or so I'm told, ahem, being a man I obviously wouldn't read such books...right ok, I've read one of my wife's, 'The Nanny' I believe it was called. I just wanted to read a book and it had the brightest most colourful cover and everyone knows that's what you should judge books on.

                Anyway, I've often heard Chick Lit referred to as fluff. Very easy to read stuff. So.... Lad Lit eh? Yeah, let's forget about the classics and get me some man fluff! (yes, yes I am aware how gay that sounds, but I'm writing a review on men's Chick Lit, I left my balls at the door when I started this review).

                Ok. So, let's talk about the actual book. Our main character is Will Kelly, who has just moved to London to become an English teacher in a comprehensive school. His job isn't really that relevant as the book's timeline runs from a Friday afternoon to the Monday morning. Will is a man who's been drifting through the last 3 years of his life ever since his longterm girlfriend Aggi dumped him. He thought she was perfect and that they'd be together forever, but out of the blue she left him broken hearted. Will can be a fairly pathetic character and I didn't instantly warm to him, but I found his character, and my liking of him, grew as the book went on. He whines about his ex-girlfriend for the whole book, but fortunately it's fairly entertaining whining. The other leading ladies in the book are Will's recent one night stand Martina, his friend Alice, and a previous occupant of Will's flat, Kate. We get to experience the weekend of Will's 26th birthday and his relationships with these four women.

                Like I said earlier, this book is very easy to read. It's not going to win awards for innovative storylines or take you on any sort of magical life altering journey. But that doesn't mean it's not worth reading. Mike Gayle gives a man's perspective of things well (though you'd expect this, what with him being a man and all), even though elements of the plot are ridiculous fantasy, there are true aspects of male attitudes and lifestyles picked up on and humorously portrayed. The only book that I've read of a similar nature that I can think of is Nick Hornby's 'About A Boy', and I'm not saying it's on a par with that, because it's not, but it's not a million miles away. Even though this was my first foray into Lad Lit, I can safely say Mike Gayle writes this style well and successfully takes you along with Will on his journey.

                I certainly don't think this is a book for everyone, but if you're a man who likes romantic comedies (it's ok, it's nothing to be ashamed of), for example, or a woman looking who's a fan of Chick Lit, this probably will be the sort of book that'll appeal to you.


                *** Other Info ***

                I bought the book from Amazon.co.uk where it's currently for sale for £3.00, though the rrp is £6.99.

                ISBN No. 978-0-340-71816-2

                Paperback: 368 pages

                Published: Flame

                My Legendary Girlfriend was Mike Gayle's first novel, he has 6 others available to buy:
                Mr Commitment
                Dinner for Two
                Wish You Were Here
                Turning Thirty
                Brand New Friend
                His 'n' Hers

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                  29.06.2004 02:48
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                  Hands up those of you who have ever been dumped in the past. I'm sure nearly all of you have got your pinkies waving in the air now....almost everybody has been 'finished' by a boyfriend/girlfriend at some point in their lives.

                  When I was 16, my boyfriend decided he'd had enough of me and got his best mate to ring me up to do his dirty work for him. He didn't have the nerve to speak to me himself. My experience had a happy outcome though as a few weeks later he was grovelling to go back out with me and we eventually got married!

                  If you have been dumped, can you honestly say that you were still pining for that person three years later?....

                  This book revolves around 25 year old Will Kelly, a newly qualified English teacher who has recently moved to London to begin his career.

                  Living alone in a grotty bedsit, Will starts to feel sorry for himself and becomes even more depressed than he already was. This is mainly due to the fact that he's been dumped....three years ago!

                  The problem is that in Will's eyes Aggi was 'The One' and will certainly always be his 'Legendary Girlfriend'. He has never fully recovered from his loss and still reminisces about their relationship. He makes lists of each birthday present she bought him, dwells on the first words she uttered to him, conversations they had and moments they shared. To make matters worse for himself he fantasises about the perfect reunion where they fall back into each others arms. Could they really get back together or is he just raising his hopes too high?

                  Basically, the book is set over a weekend in which Will spends most of his time moping around in his flat and talking on the phone. He feels miserable as it's the weekend of his 26th birthday - which also happens to be the anniversary of the infamous break-up.

                  Through his thoughts and discussions with friends (old and new) we find out exactly what happened to cause the relationship to fail and how the experience with Aggi has shaped his entire existence ever since, resulting in his current emotional state.

                  As he struggles to get over the past he learns a few home truths and makes some new discoveries. Will he overcome the immense feeling of rejection to move on and take the plunge into the depths of a new relationship?

                  To be honest, whilst reading this book you end up hoping that the answer to the above question is 'yes'....and that he'd hurry up and get on with it!

                  Instead of empathising with the main character throughout his insecurities and angst, I just wanted him to get over it and shut up. Continuous moaning, whinging and obsessive behaviour result in Will being annoying to say the least. The sympathetic prose becomes somewhat tedious and irritating, to the point where it's actually depressing to read!

                  Luckily, there are a few other characters within the book....Alice (Will's best female friend), Simon (Will's best male friend), Aggi (of course) and Kate (the previous tenant of Will's flat)....but none of these really help in bringing the book to life either. When reading a book I like to feel that I've really got to know a character but I just felt indifference towards the people in this story. There's a distinct lack of sparkle to the characterisation.

                  I must admit that a large element of wit and humour is featured though. The author, Mike Gayle, is an ex agony uncle and magazine columnist. It's apparent that his laid back writing style lends itself to that background and quite possibly his own personal experiences.

                  In this, his debut novel, there are indeed some funny incidents in the story which create a certain amount of charm. Gayle's insightful writing skills shine through when it comes to the accurate life observations included. There are some parts that almost everyone can relate to and combining this with some rather cringeworthy moments makes this book just about bearable.

                  During the weekend, numerous topics are discussed. The book deals with a lot of issues that affect modern day twentysomethings....financial worries, love, friendship, work, loneliness, lack of direction and heartbreak, as if we could possibly forget!

                  The fact that it's an account from a male point of view is an interesting slant but the concept is poorly delivered. While it is a nice insight into the damaged male ego and a refreshing change to read about a man experiencing the same insecurities as us women, there is a shortage of emotional depth and there's no sense of belief. And then to top it all off, you reach the fairly predictable twist at the end.

                  I don't think being over the course of three days helps matters either. I feel that the story is too rushed, therefore not really believable as a result. I suppose it is a fictional story which has been exaggerated for the sake of the book but to me, it would have much more meaning if it were more of a gradual progression.

                  Chapters are quite short, breaking the reading up nicely and it's quite a short book so I was able to finish it fairly quickly. On the other hand my friend (who I borrowed the book from) struggled to get into it but she persevered, refusing to give in. I must admit that after the initial boredom I only kept reading in the hope that something remotely interesting would happen!

                  Overall, I would say that if you've got some time to kill and don't set your expectations too high then this is pleasant enough reading matter due to the comic element. If that's not really your cuppa tea and you prefer something that you can really get your teeth into then I'm afraid you'll find this book to be unsatisfying fluff....certainly not legendary!




                  Published by: Flame

                  Cover price: £6.99 but available on Amazon for £2.39

                  ISBN: 0340718161

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                    27.04.2001 07:36
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                    My Legendary Girlfriend. The title doesn't really leap out and bite you, but the blurb on the back sounded intriguing so I decided to give it a go. Once I had picked up this book, I couldn't put it down again. I mean it, I stayed up all night! With most books, I tend to decide that I will stop reading at the end of a chapter, but Mike Gayle has a talent of making it so that you HAVE to read the start of the next chapter, to see what twist the story will take next. Everyone will relate to something in this book. It covers love, leaving home, heartbreak, work, school, depression, loneliness, drinking, smoking, best friends, financial worries - the lot. The story takes place over one weekend of the life of a young man who was dumped by his Legendary Girlfriend three years earlier - and has never got over it. He has finally left home to teach in the big City of London, where he makes a new friend over the phone... the girl who used to live in his flat. The ending seems predictable from the start, but the plot takes so many twists and turns, that your mind will probably change from one minute to the next. I seemed to relate to so much of this book that I could have cried when I finished it, and immediately rushed out to order his next title: Mr Commitment (reviewed elsewhere on this site). I advise that you use one of those Amazon vouchers that always seem to be lying around in your mailbox and go and buy this book now!

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                      16.02.2001 03:58
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                      I really wanted to love this book - really, I did. It came highly recommended by a friend whose opinion I value highly, and when I read the blurb on the back of the book I'm afraid that I recognised a lot of myself in the main character. So, yes, I really wanted to love it. Did I love it? Well to be honest, no I didn't. On the whole it was an average read. It tells the story of one weekend in the life of Will Kelly. Will is a newly qualified teacher who is still in love with the girl who dumped him three years ago. He's seen other people since but none have ever matched up to Aggi. She is 'The One'. He's got friends, including one special lady-friend who is his best friend, but not a girlfriend. Will is a really sad character - sad both in emotion and also in his personality. He's spent three years obsessing over this woman who wasn't really worth it in the first place. (Well, that's me, that is - I said that I recognised myself in the character!) Mike Gayle's style of writing is very easy to read - in fact I read it in a matter of days myself, and it wasn't like I just sat there and read it from cover to cover, I was still leading my life! It was such an easy read - not demanding in any way. I know that some people like that, but I like to have a bit of meat on my novels. However, as the author came so highly recommended I'm giving him a second try and have just started reading his second novel, MR. COMMITMENT. If that's any better then I might consider reading his third (TURNING THIRTY). If not, I'll give him up. So - overall an average read, but not a book I'll be picking up to read again.

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                      03.01.2001 18:32
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                      My Legendary Girlfriend tracks the weird and wonderful feelings of a fella towards his girlfriend.. or ex-girlfriend in this case. It follows a man from heartbreak to obsession to desperation and all the things in between. This is the 1st of Mike Gayles books, and as with the others, Mr Commitment and Turning Thirty it has you hooked from page one. I managed to finish this book in 2 days and I could not put it down. The main character in the book has been aptly described as the male Bridget Jones and its true!. <My partner who doesnt read books picked this up and couldnt put it down, easy reading, lots of laughs and very many home truths! cracking stuff.

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