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Woman Walks into a Bar - Rowan Coleman

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Rowan Coleman / Paperback / 128 Pages / Book is published 2006-03-02 by Arrow Books Ltd

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      17.04.2010 11:49
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      Short story about a woman going on a blind date

      It's safe to say this is definitely not the sort of thing I would usually go for, but I've been on a bit of a short story drive of late, and thought, 'Why not?' I have never heard of Rowan Coleman, but I imagined this to be along the similar lines of most 'chicklit' to give it a stereotypical genre of placement. The front cover did seem to suggest this as well.

      First of all, we're introduced to the main character in the story, 28 year old single mother Sam, and her various dating woes. A modern element sees her going on various dates via an internet dating service, with her two best friends and her twelve year old daughter offering their interminable advice. Told from the narrative perspective, we get Sam's viewpoint not only on the blind date she has been set up for by her two friends, Joy and Maria, but on her past relationships, and how bullying at school can affect someone for a long, long time.

      Coleman's writing style is very flowing and easy to manage. I have to say, although I have only ever read a few of books in this genre, I have always found them to flow very easily, and whether or not this is because they are light reading and involve the relationship angle that we can all relate to in some way or not, I'm not sure. I'm not saying it's a genre I would delve into on a regular basis - it just doesn't really interest me that much. What I am saying is that if all 'chicklit' is like the ones I have read, then I can see the appeal.

      Sam is shown as an emotionally scarred woman, desperate to fight for her daughter, even though she sees herself as weak and frumpy and unattractive. I found myself trying to relate to how she could feel, and whenever a man pops into the story, it threw me a bit, as I realised quite instantly that the characterisation is done from a woman's point of view. Men write about men in a very magnanimous or damaged way, I find, showing the internal strength that I suppose we all profess to having. My experience of women writing about (Val McDermid excluded) shows them to be very shallow and simple, and the focus is rarely on them in a favourable or practical light. The same is the case here, as Coleman brings in various blasts from the past in Sam's reminiscence, as well as the man who works in the local pub, giving a bit of variation in the characters, but ultimately providing them as slight distractions for the main element of the story, namely Sam's chequered romantic past.

      It flowed very well, and I like the characters. The only problem I had was relating to them completely. Now, I know that this book was never intended for a reader such as myself, and is definitely geared towards women, but as it flows easily and you don't have to read too much into it. You feel safe in the knowledge things will be clear by the end of the tale and there will be some form of closure. Woman Walks Into A Bar does just that, and provides a number of anecdotal jokes throughout, as the title would suggest. This takes the form of Sam's daughter, Beth, who leaves jokes randomly (bad jokes!) for her mum to find to cheer her up. It's a touching element, and gives a central theme to parts of the book.

      So, overall, it's a decent read, and no doubt something that fans of 'chicklit' would enjoy. I wasn't overly enamoured with it, but then I'm not the target audience, so I didn't expect to be. Not the sort of book I'd read again, but it wasn't bad and it flows quite well. It's part of the Quick Reads series, which encourages reluctant readers to get into reading. It's priced very well, at £2.99, as are a lot of the Quick Reads books.

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