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Pip by Freya North
ISBN 0 434 00519 3
Published by William Heinemann in 2003
I have read a couple of Freya North's books before and enjoyed them so thought I would probably enjoy this one too.
Pip is a clown, she works as a clown doctor to help sick children and also at events and parties. She meets Zac, and his son Tom, through all three of these avenues. Pip has two sisters, Fen and Cat, and an Uncle Django who raised them all. It is set in London with various visits to the family home in Derbyshire. Pip meets Zac, as usual the course of true love never runs smooth but it has a happy ending.
What was good
It was an easy read and it provided what chick lit usually does, entertainment. It was not particularly thought provoking or a difficult read in any way. It had some interesting sub plots and some of the supporting characters were really interesting. I also like that her books don't shy away from sex scenes. Although this is not to everyone's tastes I enjoyed them.
What I didn't like
The plot was very predicatable. The characters were not particularly believable. In particular the character of Pip was very one dimensional and alot of the descriptions of her and her thoughts were repetitive. Zac was also not a very rounded character. The book focussed on two stereotypes and didn't really explore the characters as individuals. Some of the sub characters were much better written. It felt like in parts the novel was padded out. There wasn't a great deal of actual plot. I also didn't like the bits with the author's voice. I didn't feel it added anything to the book.
I did enjoy this book. It was mindless and entertaining. However, I was disappointed after reading some of the author's other books because this one did not live up to expectations. I don't think I will be bothering with others in this series. I would read Freya North again though having really enjoyed other books of hers and for a quick easy read there are much worse around than 'Pip'.
Most books that I read for entertainment are historical fiction, but I also especially like two authors from the chick lit genre (Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes) for when I fancy a light humorous read.
I borrowed this book because Amazon's computer, that analyses my ratings of previous books I have read, suggested that I try this author. Although I have sometimes found their computer results helpful, I was disappointed with this suggestion. I have found that reading book reviews on Dooyoo by reviewers that I have learnt think similarly to me, is a more reliable way of finding fiction that I might enjoy.
* * * What I Didn't Like * * *
During the first part of the book I found the thirty-year-old Pip's character irritating. She says she doesn't need a man in her life, and then goes from celibacy into 'sleeping' with three different men looking for perfect sex. However, further into the book, the author gives us a reason from Pip's past for her acting like this, which made me more sympathetic to the character.
I suppose the author may have felt a need to describe the sex scenes more graphically than any other chick lit book I have read, to show the difference between 'good' and 'not so good' sex. Either that or she thought her readers would enjoy crude sex scenes, in which case I think there should have been a reference to this in the summary on the back cover of the book. I didn't realise the implications of the question posed there. "What can a clown and accountant possibly have in common?"
I notice now looking inside the cover that this book is endorsed by Cosmopolitan. Regular readers of this magazine may well enjoy some parts of this book more than I did.
My favourite chick lit author is Sophie Kinsella, who I would expect British fans of this genre to have experienced, at least once. If not then I suggest you give her a try. Pip is more sexually explicit than her books, and also those of Marian Keyes and Jill Mansell that I have read so far.
In considering the answer to, "What can a clown and accountant possibly have in common?" the author also goes on at some length about colour scheming and other aspects of interior design. I don't place the same sort of importance to this as she does, so this didn't interest me either.
This is the sixth book in a series that Freya North has had published. If, unlike me, you intend to read earlier ones, it may be desirable to read them in order. Each of the earlier books has the name of the main character as their title, but I saw no disadvantage in reading this book without reading the earlier ones.
Fen, one of Pip's sisters, works for a magazine called Trust Art. The fact that the author has a Masters Degree in the History of Art probably helped her develop this part of the storyline.
As I found most of the plot weak, telling you about other characters would probably be considered as plot spoiling.
* * * The Best Bit * * *
I must also tell you about the book's most redeeming quality. The author has done her research into clown doctors. They are sponsored by a charity called the Theodora Children's Trust.
As the author lives in London, she watched clown doctors do their ward rounds at Great Ormond Street and Guy's Hospitals. These specialist 'doctors' are there to treat the emotions of their young patients and their relatives. In other words, to make them happier by making them laugh.
I had not heard of this charity before, which started off in Switzerland in 1993, but has now spread to Britian, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Hong Kong and South Africa. These clown doctors get special training before being allowed to do this job, which can be emotionally demanding, as well as rewarding. You can read more about them at the website of theodora.org. (Click on England, unless you want to read about them in French.) They have been working in the UK since April 1994.
I found the hospital scenes involving Pip sometimes bitter-sweet, and sometimes hilarious, with their slap-stick humour casing smiles or laughter in the least likely of people.
Pip's clowning work also includes activities for healthy children in public places and private parties. She shows a genuine love for children, especially those in any sort of need, including one child who is being bullied.
I would have liked more of the plot to be about her work with children, and less about 'romance.'
* * * Recommendation * * *
Freya North has a lot of female fans, but having read this book, I won't be on the look out for any more of her books. However, I am giving it 3 stars, as this is the minimum I would give to a book that, having started, I thought worth reading to the end.
As I think this is an average chick-lit read, both from the point of view of story line and believability of characters, I could only recommend it to readers who are heavily into this genre, and would like sexually explicit romance interwoven into a plot about an interesting and worthwhile job with children.
Paperback: 364 pages
Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd; New edition edition (29 April 2004)
Freya North - Pip
First Published by William Heinemann in 2003
ISBN: 0 09 946927 8
Part of the mini series of 3 books: Pip, Fen and Cat following the three sisters through the ups and downs of their love life!
Doesn't matter what order you read them in but read them all before venturing on to 'Home truths' as this book is set a few years in the future for the whole McCabe family.
Pip McCabe: a clown! The main character of the book
Fen McCabe: Pips sister, an archivist for a magazine.
Cat McCabe: Pips other sister, a cycling enthusiast!
Django: uncle who brought up all 3 girls in the absence of his crazy sister who ran off with a cowboy from Denver if I remember right!! lives in Derbyshire still in the girls childhood home.
Zac Holmes: Pips love interest in the book, he has a son.
As a clown Pip doesn't many eligible men! This all changes when she's doing a childrens party and meets Zac Holmes.
Eligible at first glance but he comes with baggage: a 6 year old son who happens to love clowns!
Zac feels that no strings relationships are perfect for his lifestyle until Pip comes along...
What do the two have in common? Will it ever work out?
A good book but very similar to Fen, I suppose whichever you read first will be your favourite as the style is original at first but then seems repetitive in each subsequent book.
The book does seem to have more of a heart than 'Fen' as Zacs story of looking after his son alone is very moving and Pips relationship with both is heartwarming.
As I say a good book in its own right, I just think I like a change and not to read similar things as what I've read before.
The story is different, yes its still a love interest but a totally different scenario. I do like how all three sisters are mentioned in each book too.