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I was in a second hand bookshop the other day, looking for some good chick lit style books and I picked this up. I was partly attracted to it because Notting Hill is my favourite film and so therefore I thought that it might be similar, but it really wasn't!
Its by Rachel Johnson, someone who I thought I hadn't heard of but then when I saw the photo in the inside cover of the book I recognised her from a column that she writes in a Sunday newspaper. She has two more books out but I'm not really in any rush to read these.
The story tells us of life living on Notting hill with a communal garden and the politics and rules and it involves. Although Mimi and Claire might have the exclusive Notting Hill postcode, they both yet have something to achieve - Mimi needs the money to keep up with all of the areas fashions and Claire needs the baby to be the Notting Hill mummy, but none of these things are working too well with their husbands. Then everything changes when a sexy billionaire moves into their communal garden, although they are both married they decide that they both want him and only one of them can have him, and the scandal in Notting Hill ensues.
I really wasn't too keen on this book! I just couldn't get into it at all and gave up after about 100 pages because I didn't want to waste any more of my time on it when I could be doing something much better. The characters weren't written very well in my opinion, and they didn't seem like the sort of people I'd like as they were all very snobby and wasting money on yachts and fen shui! Also the plot didn't really catch my interest, I'd recommend staying away from this one. The only good thing is that I didn't pay the full price as I bought it from a second hand book shop.
I choose this book to read from my local library several weeks ago and recently got round to reading it. Given that on the cover it had Jilly Cooper praising the book I was hoping for a book that had her warm witty style of Chick Lit about the rich and famous and I have to say I was totally disappointed in this book the author is definitely not a substitute Jilly Cooper or a writer in my opinion of that ilk
"Our neighbours divide into the haves ... and the have yachts.' Meet Mimi and Clare, two married women making the most of their Notting Hill postcode. New best friends, and close neighbours, that doesn't stop them being rivals, in fact it compels it. Both are aspiring Notting Hill Mummies (Clare needs the baby, Mimi needs the six figure income) and, keeping up with all the area's fads, fashions and fabulousness is a full-time job. But the arrival of sexy billionaire Si in their exclusive communal garden strains loyalty to friends, family, spouse and feng-shui guru alike ... and only one of them can win. But who will that be? Clare or Mimi? Are they friends, or just...neighbours?" Taken from Amazon.
What I thought
I found the characters in this book to be very annoying. Maybe because I am reading this book at this credit crunch time but I found the focus that these two women had on the material things in life to be tedious and one dimensional. This maybe ok for a satire of the 80's yuppie style life but surely people have moved on from this in the 00's?
The characters themselves screamed of stereotyping of the poor aristocracy wife (Mimi) who is easy swayed by a handsome man and the money he has. Rather than enjoying the husband and life she has she focus on the things she doesn't have to the determinate of her relationships. Clare who seems to me to be poor imitation of the Jennifer Saunders Character in Absolutely Fabulous minus the wanting a baby part. They both seem to be happy to swallow any alternative therapy without understanding any of the principles behind it. For example totally redesigning a house for the principle of Feng-shui only eating certain foods. If you are interested in Feng-shui I am sure they way this is portrayed in this book will leave you fuming and throwing the book across the room. The plot lines seem to be very contrived. Almost like a tick box recipe book e.g. lesbian affair Tick, women left for younger woman tick. If Notting hill is in real life full of these characters then all I can say is I am glad I am a Yorkshire girl. The bashing of the yummy mummies happens of course but in a way that isn't pleasant in my view. Its just assassination without any satire or respect for those people especially as one assumes they may well be her readership. If this is book is aiming for satire it falls well short of the mark.
My advice would be to not waste your money on this book but here are the details if you want them.
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Penguin (18 Jan 2007)