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The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy - Fiona Neill

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Author: Fiona Neill / Genre: Fiction

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    13 Reviews
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      10.01.2011 20:23
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      not good!

      I picked this up at a second hand book shop, just because it was only 1.50 and I'd read extracts of it in the Sunday times magazine every week and it seemed okay. However it was one of them times of getting something just for something to read and then wishing I hadn't bothered!

      The central character is Lucy Sweeney, self professed 'slummy mummy.' While the other mums are putting all their effort into the competition on the playground, sending their children to private tutors and going to yoga every day, she just doesn't know how they have time do it, as she balances it with a career and a husband she hasn't had sex with for months, and does the school run in her pyjamas! It was apparently based on her life so its mainly true and as a result of this, the names hav been changed but instead of giving them new names she just gives them code names 'Alpha Mum' and 'Sexy Domesticated Dad.'

      Well really this wasn't much of a plot and I think that it suited being a Sunday column much better, it just didn't work for a whole book. There wasn't much structure and it seemed to be the same thing over and over again, so I just got really bored of it after about 100 pages and just gave up! Bearing in mind there is 420 pages, flicking through the book nothing much else really seems to happen! I wouldn't read it if I were you but if you do still want to read it then its 4.39 on amazon.

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        26.06.2010 13:02
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        Life of a none organised mummy!

        I recently finished this book by Fiona Neill and thought I would share my views on it as even after reading it all I still cannot decide how much I enjoyed it! I had picked this book up in Waterstones a part of a 3 for 2 offer so I started this one first simply because it was not one of my usual authors I thought I would read it first knowing, if I didn't enjoy it then I would at least have two of my favourite authors to fall back on.



        The author:
        This is Fiona Neill's second book I believe with her first being named 'Friends, lovers and other indiscretions'. I had not previously read anything by Fiona Neill so I wasn't really sure what to expect. Before she released her first book Fiona was a journalist, or it seems still is! This book seems to have come about from a regular column she has in the Times o which proved so popular she decided to turn it into a book.




        The plot:
        Lucy Sweeney is a mother of three and wife to the ever organised Tom. Maybe it is Tom's organisational abilities that mean as a mother she is completely the opposite as before children she had a high flying career that took organisation and that all seemed to be going well. Trying to keep her family running smoothly whilst trying not to be left in a pickle by the most organised mother ever who she refers to as Alpha Mum and the ever so glamorous Yummy Mummy No1, who makes parenting look easy, it doesn't help that dad Robert who she refers to as Sexy Domesticated Dad, has started flirting with her! Before long she seems to be caught up in many situations including her friends as well as her own. Can she ever get organised before her domesticated life comes tumbling down on her?




        Characters:
        Our main character is Lucy. The author has done very well in making her come alive and she manages to convey how she acts as well as making quite humorous comments to show how she is thinking. Because the majority of the story is about Lucy the storey is only ever told from her point of view. We see her thinking of how to go about certain situations and how she tries to get out of things too.
        Our other main characters as the other mums and of course the dad, from the school her children attend. Hence the title of the book it does focus on life of the mums and dads with children so a lot of the main emphasis is on what is going on around the term time. The two other parents we probably get to hear the most of is Yummy Mummy and Sexy Domesticated Dad. These are both shown to be very different and both play a huge part in the book. The author has done very well in making these people come to life without it spoiling the main focus being on Lucy.
        Lastly we see the characters of Emma, Cathy and Tom who are her best friends and husband. Thy feature enough in the book to make the story relevant and to give the story another depth. Overall I felt all the people featured were brought to life to make the book work well - there is nothing worse than a book where you don't feel you know enough about the characters that when they are mentioned you have forgotten who they are or how they relate to the main character!



        Price:
        I bought this as part of a multi buy offer so didn't pay the full RRP which is £6.99. It worked out I paid roughly just over £4 for this book. You can still pick it up in most book stores or online and of course you can always rent a copy from the library if you so wish.




        Overall opinion:
        I can't quite put my finger on what it was about this book as in one way I enjoyed it very much - it was very easy to read, I got into it fairly quickly meaning I was wanting to read it at every spare moment I had, yet, I feel there was something that stops me enjoying it as much as I do with a lot of other books in this genre and I think it was simply because I couldn't quite understand how the main character got herself into quite so many sticky situations or was so unorganised!! Maybe this is because I am quite organised and yes do sometimes leave things until another time or forget to do things but, Lucy seemed to take things to the extreme - such as losing her credit card 12 times in one year! Certain parts of the story I found myself feeling the same as her husband and wondering why she had done things one way when she could have easily done things differently without much hassle and then prevented certain situations.
        For me these were the things that let the book down because I felt myself getting frustrated by the character of Lucy - however I am well aware there are plenty of parents out there who may be able to understand exactly what she is like so I know this flaw for me was probably just personal because I am myself a very organised person. So for this reason I would still give the book a good 4 stars and recommend it - I shall also certainly be getting her newer book at some point to read.

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          07.05.2010 22:06

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          A great read that almost all Mums can relate to

          The essence of this novel as highlighted by its conclusion is that the grass isn't always greener. Indeed Lucy Sweeney can best be described as the not so smug married version of Bridget Jones. Neill does a fantastic job of outlining the chaotic, plate spinning lifestyle that is close to the reality for almost all Mums of young children, (particularly stay at home Mums), although considerable comfort can be gained from Sweeney being more disorganised than most, contributing to the feel good factor of this novel. Furthermore, Neill's characterisation skills draw the reader in. Indeed it is fair to say that most of us have come across a Yummy Mummy or Alpha Mummy character at some point, although the extremeties of these characters here adds some light hearted humour. If you view yourself as a struggling juggling Mum and Wife, you will almost certainly relate to Lucy Sweeney, in fact you wont be able to put this book down.

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          03.01.2010 18:15
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          Good one for the yummy mummies!

          This is a review of the book: 'The secret life of a Slummy Mumm' by Fiona Neill.

          This is premium chick lit and has a good storyline that got better as the book progressed. It begins describing the dreary and predictable life of Lucy Sweeney, a mum of three in her mid thirties.

          Lucy has inappropriate fantasies about one of the school run dads (aka sexy domesticated dad) Robert Bass. She gets herself in to all sorts of awkward situations with Robert that leave your own toes curling in embarrasment! When it looks like her feelings are being reciprocated it scares her into analysing her own life and appreciating what she's actually got.

          In the book, Lucy's husband Tom comes over as an extremely patient and understanding man, even having conversations with her about the crush she has on Robert. It's all a bit too easy-going for my liking but hey-ho, all relationships work differently.

          Each chapter is interspersed with the ingredients that make Lucy a 'slummy mummy' including a laundry pile the size of a mountain, a disapproving mother in law, terrible baking skills, inappropriate clothes and wardrobe malfunctions aplenty and there's enough to keep you chuckling as you read on.

          Lucy is stuck between her 'mummy' world and the lives of her single friends and she is partly envious of all the drama in their lives. Her school mum friends (including Yummy Mummy no 1 and Alpha Mum) seem to have everything on a plate and she finds it hard to accept her move from a high profile job to mummy status.

          My favourite bit in the book is when Lucy is at a school assembly and realises she has an old pair of pants stuck in the leg of her jeans. When asked what it is, she lies on the spot and tells them it's a piece of relaxtion technology that she squeezes to de stress and all the parents around her have a feel of it... lol!

          One clever aspect of the book is how it knits all the characters together, resulting in an ending where everyone plays a role but I don't want to give away too much in case you are planning to read the book yourself!

          I did enjoy this book, but found it a bit slow going to start with but found it got better as I kept going. It's in the top ten Sunday Times bestseller list too.

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            14.11.2009 08:24
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            Chick-lit at its best

            It turns out its possible to convey "What the heck are you doing wasting your time reading that mindless drivel" in a single groan. Much the same way a plumber sucking through their teeth means a job is going to be very very expensive, highly complicated and make three times as much mess as you're expecting my husbands groan said it all. This is chick-lit at its best. It attained the heady heights of the Sunday Times Best Seller list in its first week of publication and deservedly so.

            This is accessible reading for every mother out there and if you're anything like me you'll find yourself thinking I've done that and that and that.

            This novel could be set on any school playground anywhere. I can certainly ear mark certain mums with the attributes of the key characters within the book. Theres Lucy, married mother of three frequently seen in dishevelled state with memory like a sieve and an innate ability to be late to everything (that'll be me then). An armada of Yummy Mummys who look like they've stepped out of the pages of Vogue magazine and have a child resistant bubble around them whist attending school with a mini-Boden chid whos uniform looks tailor made and isn't splattered with traces of mud from the brief walk across the car park. Theres Alpha mum who has it all, looks, full time executive job, immaculate devoted children, nanny, housekeeper and a clean and tidy car and finally Sexy Domesticated Dad (Oh yes we have eye candy on the playground too).

            Theres nothing overly complicated about the plot. It follows several days in the life of Lucy as she attempts to get all four children to school on time in an acceptable state of attire despite several nocturnal disturbances and all the usual last minute requests made as children exit the house for school. The ones that routinely start with I need money and a series of complex forms completing with your signature in triplicate on each one and I need them now. Where saying I'll bring it in later simply isn't an option.

            Perhaps its because I can see a little bit of me on each page that I find it as funny as I did. I was howling with laughter to the point of tears at some of it. I can safely say its one of the funniest books I've had the pleasure of reading in a very long time.

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              10.09.2009 20:19

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              A funny book, with a predictable ending.

              Based on a Times column , The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy is a hilarious read and tells it how it is! Lucy Sweeney is a mother of three. She does not have the perfect life, laundry piles take over, she takes the children to school in her pyjamas and all those other things that happen when life becomes hectic. She does not come across as the most likeable person either which actually is something I liked about the book. She seems like a real character. The story reveals her split personality; the slummy mummy versus the very competitive mum.

              I found the book was intelligently written and very funny. There were points where I could not help laughing out loud and other times where I felt truly sorry for Lucy. The only thing I think that let down the book was the predictable ending. But overall an easy read and worth reading if you like this genre.

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              04.09.2009 16:14
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              A must read for anyone who enjoys a good "Chick Lit"

              Yummy vs Slummy?

              In a world of beautiful celebrities showing us every day how you can have 3 kids, have a size 8 figure and still be immaculately turned out with every part of your person being groomed to perfection this book points out that its ok to not be all of those things.

              The story follows the life of Lucy Sweeney, mother to 3 boys and wife to a very busy Architect who works away a lot. In the story Lucy has a crush of SDD (Sexy Domestic Dad), a dad to children who attend her school and through this crush she finds herself getting involved in her children's PTA, run by "Alpha Mum", along with "Yummy Mummy No.1" and "SDD". Lucy is unorganised, regularly drops her children off at school in her PJ's, has a terrible memory and has many secret unopened "red letters" from different credit cards that her husband doesn't know about.

              Throughout the book you also discover about the relationships of Lucy's single friends, and discover many other relationships throughout the book.

              Its not often that I laugh out loud at a book. I did so with this book on many different occasions. It is very witty and cleverly written. I almost felt like I knew Lucy, I went through all the emotions of the book with her. Especially the embarrassing bits.

              The book will make you feel uplifted.

              I would highly recommend this book. Very good for a summer beach read.

              I would pay about £5 for this book new.

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                12.07.2009 20:22

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                I have just this minute finished this book. I am sad that its over as I feel I have lost a good friend! This is the way a book should leave you. I have never laughed so much out loud than I have with this book! This author is very talented adn I wish there was a sequel to it. I have def identified myself in Lucy, her mishaps ect. I would def reccommend this!

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                30.10.2008 23:41
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                A funny book about the trials of modern day parenting.

                It's half term, no school runs to make, no clubs to taxi the kids to. All I need is some 'chick lit' to help me through the week. I choose The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy' because I guess that's how I see myself. I hate housework, and hope the characters of this novel will be a little like me!!

                The main character, and heroine of the story, is scatty mother of three boys, Lucy Sweeny. She is surrounded by Yummy Mummy No 1 (self explanitory), highly competative Alpha Mum and Sexy Domesticated Dad ( no prizes for guessing what might happen here!). Lucy, in her life before kids was a senior producer at the BBC, but now stuggles with the daily perils of being a stay at home mum.

                I loved the fact that Lucy has piles of washing, both clean and dirty, that have reached mountainous proportions. She looses keys and credit cards with great regularity, and her car is like a skip on wheels! She has secret debts, does crazy things, but loves her family more than anything.

                The story revolves around our heroine's mid -life crisis. She lusts after Sexy domesticated Dad, whilst at the same time trying to keep her marriage, to long suffering Tom, together and at the same time tries not to loose the parenting plot completely. The troubles she encounters make your own daily worries seem trivial and most definitely mundain.

                This was a great light hearted holiday read. I laughed aloud at times (always a good sign!) and enjoyed the plots, even if they were a little predictable at times. I could wholeheartedly relate to Lucy's problems with online grocery shopping. Ordering 30kg of onions by mistake - I did almost the same thing myself, thinking I was ordering 6 onions not 6Kg!!

                I was a bit disappointed with the ending as it seemed a triffle too farscical and too rushed. However, don't let that put you off reading this book - Never choose housework over curling up with a good book!!

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                  08.10.2008 16:28
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                  A wicked look at motherhood of the Slummy rather than Yummy variety

                  In the age of yummy mummies, it's quite refreshing to read about the other side of the story - those who don't have their well behaved children sitting neatly in spotless white outfits while they themselves show off their size zero bodies in the latest designer frocks. Those who are in fact more slummy than yummy. Lucy Sweeney is one of those mothers, the sort who count the day as successful if they remember to put a coat on top of PJs for the school run, and if the children's projectile vomiting incidents stay in the single figures. She first came to life in a column in the Saturday Times magazine, and her story continues now in this book.

                  I really like the columns in the magazine - they were short and feisty, much like their heroine. There are two types of books-from-columns, those which are purely a collection of previously published materials, and those which take the ideas from said columns and pad out a story with them. This book is the second type, and to have a whole, on-going story about the characters developed in depth was a bit strange, but the final results were good, with only the odd episodic moment.

                  Lucy is mother to three young boys, married to Husband On A Short Fuse and trying to bumble her way through life at the kids' London school which has its own rather unique cast of characters - Celebrity Dad, Alpha Mum, Yummy Mummy #1 and the rather delicious Sexy Domesticated Dad. Lucy used to be a highflying career woman - she has a career in television, and was doing quite well for herself - but somehow she hasn't, well, gelled with motherhood. She's a kind, caring mother, just slightly disorganised, as evidenced by the state of her house and the contents of her kitchen cupboards. Trying to calm the anal concerns of Husband On A Short Fuse while keeping up with the Yummy Mummies of her school, she wonders where her fabulous previous life has disappeared to. Her friends don't help much - with their affairs with married men and their party-animal antics, they do little to make a slutty single life seem any less-appealing.

                  I love Lucy because despite the chaos in her life, she is a smart 'un who is fabulous at thinking on her feet and getting herself out of uncomfortable situations.

                  "We're practicing a Tracy Emin installation... 'An Unmade Car'"

                  she exclaims when the Head teacher seems shocked by the state of the inside of her Volvo. I taught a Business English class this morning in which we discussed Churchill's idea that 'Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm', an idea which describes Lucy perfectly. She survives humiliation, mixed messages, rejection and confusion, remaining optimistic that things will all work out in the end, which they have a habit of doing where she is concerned. I also liked the descriptions of the other parents and their various neuroses. I can see why this book could make some parents feel much better about themselves given the other images often portrayed in the media.

                  The book loses a star for the ending which is hilariously improbable - I can't give too much away but it's a comedy of errors which even those with the most believing of minds would find hard to take. It was funny to read at the time, but on the final page where the book ends you do finish up wondering if, seriously, that's all there is. My real complaint though is that Lucy ends up talking about things she never has the guts to do, which is not the sort of character I took her for - if she had thought about things for half the book and then either jumped straight in, or turned her back, it would have been ok, but to talk and consider and discuss possible scenarios for so much of the book without actually doing anything? That kinda got on my nerves.



                  This review originally appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk under my name

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                    07.08.2008 17:45
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                    excellent read!

                    This book is wonderful! I had not read a fiction novel in a while and a friend lent me her copy of this. I devoured it over three days, solely during baths! I was like a prune, a very cold prune because I would rather get cold than put the book down!

                    It is about a mum of three who is having a mid-life crisis and questioning all the decisions she has made and her worth to society. It is hilarious to read about her antics with parents from her childrens' school. Everything seems to go wrong for her. Probably the reason I enjoyed the book so much was that I identified with the lead character so totally!

                    There is also a good contrast between the person she is with her school parent friends and her old friends that she knew before she was just a mum and a wife! It gives a great insight into modern motherhood but is extremely light-hearted.

                    The book is only £3.90 for a paperback from amazon so a total bargain!

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                      20.07.2008 20:46
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                      A great read for new mums who can only manage a few pages before baby starts screaming

                      A few weeks after my daughter was born I was doing the weekly shop in Sainsbury's when I noticed they had several books on sale. I had a quick look and almost immediately the cover of this book caught my eye. Being a new mummy, anything mummy related got my attention. I read the back of the book and thought to myself "this book may well make me feel better about the things I am not managing to do now I am a mum". Without any hesitation it was added to my trolley.

                      The book is really easy to read and is one of those books you can pick up and put down at will - something which was very handy for me as with a newborn time to sit and read was something I could not predict and something that was grabbed between naps, nappy changes and feeding. This book is not going to stretch (let alone work out) your intellectual muscles, but it will make you laugh (sometimes out loud, sometimes to yourself and sometimes because the event she is describing pretty much happened identically for you a few moments previously). It is an easy read and I would say a must read for every new mum - there's nothing like a bit of light hearted entertainment and laughing at someone else's misfortunes to make you feel better about your own laundry mountain, half-eaten apple under the passenger seat of your car or fantasies about the new dad you've just met.

                      In a nutshell this book is about Lucy - she's a stay at home mum, who's failing dismally at being the epitome of a good wife and mother. Her house is caos and her decisions are far from faultless, but she is a loveable character who has traits that I am sure everyone of us mummies has (we just probably wouldn't admit to it).

                      Having read this I passed it on to a friend who had become a new mum and she, like me, found it somewhat reassuring. So, for all you first time mum to bes when writing your hospital bag list, why not add this book to it - it's guaranteed to while away the hours and make you feel better about the impending laundry mountain.

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                      27.06.2008 19:10
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                      Good chick lit

                      Lucy Sweeney is a full time mother to three boys. Lucy's mantra to mothering seems to be deal with it as it comes. She has a laundry pile that rivals small mountains, a car that doubles as a waste dump, and wears tartan pyjamas on the school run.

                      No, Lucy is not your domestic goddess. With secret credit card debt, masses of unpaid parking tickets and constantly losing things including passports, credit cards and contact lenses, she is a one-woman disaster zone.

                      Barely managing to make it through the days against the challenges of Alpha Mum (a highly organised competitive mother at the school), Yummy Mummy No.1 (high fashion, tiny waistline), while her architect husband Tom fights their possible financial ruin by travelling back and forth to Milan to run his library project. The only help Lucy has is from her mother-in-law Petra, who has unfortunately passed her obsessive comulsive need for tidiness and organisation onto her son, and cannot help but make Lucy feel inadequate (mother-in-laws are like that aren't they) even if she doesn't mean to.

                      When Petra drops the bombshell that she's moving to Marrakesh to live her new lover, it's just one in a chain of events that are making Lucy's life even more unsteady and unstable. Between the ever-growing feeling of restlessness she feels and her uncontrollable attraction to Sexy Domesticated Dad, how will Lucy hold her life, and her family together?

                      We're also introduced along the way to Lucy's best friends and their tangled love lives, and Lucy's family, with it's mixed views on family, motherhood and work.

                      I found the first few chapters were me basically trying to get inside Lucy's head and identify with her. In this sense the first few chapters were not as easy reading as some books where there is an instant connection. However, once I was involved the story became more and more gripping, with funny moments and heart wrenching simple moments every mother can identify with.

                      The guilt that comes along as part as package is investigated thoroughly in this book, along with the mixed feelings and emotions we go through as our children grow up. It was very true in this sense. Also the concept of marriage and how it works long-term, the pitfalls of possible adultery and how it affects all parties involved.

                      Apart from us both being mothers, the other way I most identified with Lucy was that we both find it too easy to see other peoples point of view, even during bad behaviour on their part. This can be a curse as well as a blessing.

                      I found this book was very clever in that it was a light hearted but touching story, yet it also addressed the deeper issues connected with family and personal relationships without being too heavy.

                      It is well worth a read, although the author is new to me, I would certainly look out for further works on her part, and this book will remain part of my collection.


                      Info on Fiona Neill (Author)

                      "Fiona Neill is a features editor for the times magazine and author and creator of the hugely popular slummy mummy column". (Taken from book).

                      Juding by the critical acclaim on the book and the fact it is a Top Ten Sunday Times bestseller, it seems I'm not the only one to like it. Therefore, I have no qualms in recommending to all fans of chick-lit!

                      Available on Amazon for £3.86 new or used and new (marketplace) from £0.01 (both paperback) it seems a bargain. Think I paid around £3.80 in Tesco though and you could always try the library which is of course free.
                      ISBN: 978-0-0995-0288-3

                      As far as I can tell this is her only novel to date, so lets hope she keeps up the good work.

                      Review may appear on other sites.

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