The Self preservation society by Kate Harrison is a delightful read by a very talented author , who is very under appreciated. The book is available at £land (cover price £6.99) but is truly worthy of its higher price tag, i picked mine up on a whim at a car boot as the blurb got me straight away, Jo is a self proclaimed scardey cat, Afraid of everything, a Health and safety nut working in a health and safety office, and has a health and safety boyfriend to match. They are the ultimate Scaredy cats. Jo loves statistics but almost becomes one in an accident that becomes a life or death situation and has to re evaluate her scaredy life. This book is a real heart warmer which makes you want to stop worrying and just do it. a perfect holiday read and will make your heart lift and brighten your day.
~ The Self Preservation Society - Kate Harrison ~
Having never read a book by the author Kate Harrison in the past I was completely unaware as to what to expect.
I happened to find this book in Poundland for yep, £1! The RRP is a very respectful £6.99, which having now read the book I can say that I think this is a fair price as it was a good read.
Kate Harrison is the author of the Secret Shopper books and Soul Beach Trilogy, her first novel Old School Ties was published in 2003.
So back to the book ~
The Self Preservation Society.
I have to say that I was very impressed with this book and chiclit isn't my usual style of book to read prefering true stories instead but as I had seen it at the bargain price I wasn't going to leave it there, if I never read the book, it at least would fill a space on my bookshelf!
However I did start to read this just five nights ago and it took me four nights to finish the book as I found I wanted to read more and know more all the time, making it hard to put down!
The story is based around the character Jo Morgan, she is a self confessed scaredy-cat picking the safest option for everything through her life. She is with safe and dependant Dennis who is Deputy Cheif Civil Protection Officer to Jo's Assistant Civil Protection Officer. Her job is to layout the safety bulletins and their life is just as safely planned out. Everything needs to be as risk free as possible, their car was chosen as it topped safety charts, food they eat is safe and free from this and that, even their sex life is planned!
One morning Jo's life takes a dramatic change after being involved in an accident which leaves her in a coma for a short amount of time yet when she comes around things seem different. She struggles with flashbacks from her childhood and her 'head' isn't what it was before.
She now craves a bit of risk and spontainety and finds it with Frisky Van Belle and 85yr old ex fighter pilot who she meets at the Monday club - a place for people who have suffered head injuries and is run by the rather dishy sounding Dr Nathan!
Jo is taken under Frisky's wing and becomes one of the 'head bangers'.
I really enjoyed the layout of the book, how each chapter moved things along nicely without having to backtrack. It flows along brilliantly and it's nice to read about Jo now, and also Jo as a child in her flashbacks.
The effortless style of the book makes it to be quite a gripping yet easy to read book.
I just wanted to know more and more, about the past nad the present and whilst I was hoping for the right ending (so to speak) it comes about in an unexpected way.
I don't want to spoil the story for anyone as it makes for an interesting read, so I won't say anymore about it other than buy it and read it!
The one I have is the paperback book rather than the hardback and the cover on this is different to what is shown above, the paperback cover is pale blue with the name of the book written in pink lettering, around this is random pictures of light bulbs, flags/bunting, a spider, and some ducks. It's quite plain if I am honest yet it does look quite pretty.
Thanks for reading :o) x
Review of The Self-Preservation Society, a novel by Kate Harrison
I am reviewing a paperback copy of this book, published by Orion Books, ISBN 978-0752882642, 384 pages, cover price £6.99, Genre:- Modern fiction.
The novel is currently available on www.amazon.co.uk for £5.49 new or from 0.01p used,
Living in the 21st century is fraught with danger for the novel's central character Jo Morgan. Jo is a self-confessed scaredy cat. As a child growing up near Greenham Common, Jo always imagined the worst, even though her somewhat unconventional family would try to jolly her out of her fixations and nervousness. At school, her imagination was further fired by an over zealous English teacher when he showed his class a film depicting the horrors of nuclear bombs. Following this, Jo saw even more disaster everywhere and was so convinced of an impending nuclear war, that she spent her pocket money stockpiling tins of baked beans in case of war.
When she hit adulthood, Jo was still a scaredy cat, she works for the council in the Public Protection department, otherwise known as accident prevention, and spends her working days trying to protect the world from conker induced injuries, tea cosy mishaps and similar mundane incidents. Her domestic set up is safe too, she lives with her boyfriend, 40 year old Dennis Diffley, in a bungalow designed for the elderly. Dennis purchased the bungalow before meeting Jo and he feels that it was a sensible choice as he will not have to pay for a stair-lift should he become less mobile in old age.
Dennis is the Deputy Director of the Public Protection department and ultimately Jo's senior at work. The couple lead a very quiet and sedate life for people of their age.
Jo and Dennis never take any risks, they do not travel abroad for holidays, they spend their money carefully, they are both obsessed by statistics and can relate how many injuries are caused each year in Britain by almost anything.
One day, Jo meets with an accident on her way to work, when a Lycra clad cyclist wearing a smog mask runs her down and leaves her for dead. Jo suffers serious head injuries and is in a coma for several days, her life hangs in the balance and she is not expected to survive. But Jo does survive and her life takes on an unexpected angle which in turn leads her from being a cowardly person to......well, I'm not saying, you'll have to read the book to find out!
==About the Author==
Kate Harrison was born in Wigan, her childhood was spent in various places in the UK as her father's job involved the family moving around. Kate attended twelve different schools in her youth. One leaving school, she trained as a journalist and her first job was with a news agency in Reading, where she reported mainly for national tabloid newspapers. She later joined the BBC in Bristol as a researcher for the nightly TV news programme, Points West and eventually became a BBC Education Correspondent for TV and radio based in Birmingham. Her career with the BBC continued following a move to London where she worked on television programmes such as Newsround and Panorama. She left her job in 2006 in order to write full time. She now has six novels under her belt and writes from her home in West London.
My source for the above information was the author's website, www.kate-harrison.com , a full bibliography and further information about Ms Harrison can be found on the site.
==My Thoughts and Conclusion==
I really enjoyed The Self-Preservation Society, I found it to be an interesting and thought provoking novel in many ways and not at all as I had expected a book by a 'chick-lit' type author to be. The plot is intricate and slickly worked. The storyline is set in the present, but the central character Jo, also has flashbacks to her youth and childhood which actually make sense of the continuing tale of Jo and her neuroses and fears.
After her accident, Jo is beset by doubts and mood swings. Her recovery is slow and peppered with set backs, her fussy, over concerned parents and ultra safe boyfriend swiftly become a major source of irritation in her life.
I particularly liked the way the author examined the effects of head injuries and the recovery processes of patients within the plot. This may not sound like a humorous matter, but the scenes of Jo at a head injury suffers meeting are hilarious, yet poignant at the same time.
As the plot progresses, Jo's character develops and she begins to accept that she may not be the scared and timid soul she thought that she was. Her blossoming into a stronger, self reliant person and the reasons for her previous cowardly nature, are a joy to read. To me, Jo seemed a better person after surviving her traumatic experiences.
Kate Harrison was not an author known to me prior to reading The Self-Preservation Society, so I read the book with no preconceived expectations. I was impressed at the blend of drama and humour that the author injected into this story. The dialogue is sharp and witty and the characters are superbly well drawn and believable. I found myself actually caring what happened to them, which has to be a good thing! The twists and turns of the plot and the revelations from Jo's past, make this a true page turner of a novel.
The Self-Preservation Society is a novel that I feel I will re-read, it is amusing, sensitive and entertaining. The subject matter may sound a little 'dry' but I found it worked very well with the characters drawn by Ms Harrison. If The Self-Preservation Society is an example of the novels by this author, I will definitely be looking out for more by her.
I would recommend this novel to others and am awarding the book 5*.
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 December 2010
N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.
Joanna is a self confessed scaredy-cat, she works for a council and does risk assessments and points out problems and solutions to correct them and avoid them in the future. She lives in a bungalow with her boyfriend Dennis and things are good for her. Jo has a problem though she always thinks the worst and grew up being terrified and scared that bad things were always going to happen. Joanna is about to arrive at work but unfortunately on the way she is hit by a biker and is knocked flying and she wakes from a coma to find herself in hospital.
After the accident Joanna feels different about life and is having a hard time trying to get back to normal. Her doctor suggests she attends his 'Monday Club' where he spends time with people who have had brain injuries and it is here that she meets Frisky. Frisky is over 80 and enjoys his life to the full, he served in the war and had his plane shot down but survived and since he is determined to enjoy his life and make sure all around him does too. He tried to help Joanna and encourage her to live a little more and try new things. She finally relents and lets him try to help her overcome her problems and fears but can Frisky crack this hard shell or will Joanna be destined to be a scaredy-cat forever?
The plot outline which I have given for this book really is only a snippet into the story, there is so much more to read and discover including some good friends and different character who really make the book a lot more interesting and enjoyable to read. We also have Joanna getting flashback to hr childhood and for me these were a great addition and made me really understand her character completely.
It was by chance that I got this book, I am a member of a book club and this was on sale for £2.00 so I decided it may be worth a read. The cover also looked good and pleasant and helped with my decision and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was very surprised by it. The storyline was good and quite different from anything I had read before and I found the way we had the tragedy of the accident mixed in with the humour of the flashback and characters made for a good mix and a book full of different emotions instead of just a flat read. The characters were all very good and easy to get to know. I loved how on one side we had the people who lived sensibly and without risks and then we had the complete opposite in Frisky who was always up for the challenge and living life to the full. We did not get to know much about many of the character but the ones we did get to know were easy to follow and understand.
The book is split into two sections with the main part being set in the present and Joanna trying to recover from her accident and the other section is the flash backs which Joanna has. In these she takes us back to he childhood, starting at the age of 12 and telling us about events which happened to her to make her the way she is now and why she became so scared of everything. The way this book has been written make these time frames very easy to follow as they are separated by chapters.
At the start of each chapter we get a phobia and the meaning of it and I was surprised by a lot of the words as I had never heard of them, I thought this was a nice touch and even confused hubby with some of the words. Kate Harrison has a good writing style for this book and I found she made it easy to read and follow the story and there were times when I got hooked and could not put the book down. I was made to feel a good amount of emotions in the book and for me this is always a good thing as it means I have been able to connect with the characters and their lives.
The book was published by Orion Books and the version which I have is the hard back. The cover price for this version is £9.99, I would not be prepared to pay the full price for this book but as I said I got it for the offer and bargain price of £2.00. I have to give this book 4/5 stars as it was a very good read with good easy to engage with characters but I have had to drop one star as there was just something missing from the storyline, I cannot name anything specific but for me I felt there could have been a lot more added to make this more fun.