I decided to read this book because I've been following the 'Peter and Jane' Facebook page for a couple of years now and find it really funny and relatable. I figured a whole book featuring the same dry wit and relatable family humour would be brilliant; sadly I didn't get what I expected from this book.
For me, the humour that I was so used to just didn't translate to the pages of the book. There were snippets of the content that I found funny, particularly at either end of the book, but a lot of what I read fell flat for me. It may be that the type of humour that drew me into the Facebook page is better in smaller snippets rather than filling a whole book.
It's possible that part of the issue with how I took the book in was the audiobook format that I read it in. I found myself zoning out and struggling to focus for large portions of it while I was listening. The narrator was easy enough to listen to, but it just didn't feel like there was enough happening in the plot to hold my attention. I realised part way in that I'd misunderstood the book's format as well; I went into it thinking it was a semi-autobiographical parody, but it turns out that it's a comedy novel - that certainly didn't help me manage me own expectations about what I was getting out of it.
The content itself was quite repetitive in places; by that I mean it was the same jokes about parenting over and over again (e.g. making the same jokes about her hippy sister-in-law time and time again), and that left everything feeling quite narrow. I also thought that instead of hitting the right tone (which the Facebook page seems to do) of a gently sarcastic look at how difficult parenting and family life is for everyone, it actually came across as whiny and self-centred more than I would have liked.
I understand that there's a whole series of these books by the same author, so they must be appealing to plenty of people out there, but this one just didn't appeal to me.
Tuesday 8th SeptemberFirst day back at school. I am going to 100% nail being a school mummy this year. I can totally do this. Yes, this year is definitely going to be much better – I am absolutely not going to shout at the children, let them stuff their faces with crisps or goggle away on the iPad. And I most certainly will not slump on the sofa at the end of the day, glugging wine and muttering ‘FML’ repeatedly.
Unfortunately I have not yet actually managed to buy the bento boxes for their lunches or book jiu jitsu lessons, and I will have to learn to like green tea, as it is foul, and I have not yet mastered French plaits, but I am quietly confident that these are mere details in my grand master plan…
It is Mummy’s 39th birthday. She is staring down the barrel of a future of people asking if she wants to come to their advanced yoga classes, and polite book clubs where everyone claims to be tiddly after a glass of Pinot Grigio and says things like ‘Oooh gosh, are you having another glass?’
But Mummy does not want to go quietly into that good night of women with sensible haircuts who ‘live for their children’ and stand in the playground trying to trump each other with their offspring’s extracurricular activities and achievements, and boasting about their latest holidays.
Instead, she clutches a large glass of wine, muttering ‘FML’ over and over again. Until she remembers the gem of an idea she’s had…
You can buy the book here now. It was published by HarperCollins.