This book initially caught my eye sitting on the shelves of WHSmith around Christmas time. While busy shoppers flew past me in the aisle, all I wanted to scream was ‘Yes, I want to go to bed for a year too!’. It’s a brilliant idea which explores how in this day and age everyone always has somewhere to be, someone to talk to or something to worry about. In a way, this book reminds you of the simple pleasures in life.
There are an array of characters throughout the book which help you laugh until tears are streaming down your face, sit quietly pondering worries and past events and take a minute out for yourself. The lead character is Eva. Now, in my opinion, she definitely explores all different kinds of issues and thoughts relating to our society. Outwardly, her character is portrayed as a hilarious middle aged woman seeking peace and quiet from a crazy world - except she unfortunately gains some rather ‘eccentric’ followers due to her defiance. Then there’s Brian, her husband who seems initially to be a bit of a sex pest with his lusty lover Titania (nicknamed Tit for short, a little chuckle inducing). There’s Eva’s twin children Brianne and Brian Junior who seem like mini ‘Facebook’ hackers, always having some form of gadget with them, and wanna-be Rachel’s from countdown with their mad mathematical skills.
Now from this one would think that Townsend is setting up a typical family scenario with a lover, easily creating tensions bewteen them which result in a hilarious read for us. However, this initial hilarity is added to by the inclusion of mother-in-laws, war damaged neighbors and crazy university friends. All in all, the mix of characters all bounce of one another creating hilarious scenarios for every reader to relate to. One of the most outrageous sub-characters has got to be Poppy, an unfortunate friend of the twins. Not only is she a compulsive liar, but pretends to be pregnant so that a Chinese student gives her money, that he technically doesn’t have, and then the young girl preys on Eva’s husband. In some respects, this begins the cycle of the more sinister aspects of the book.
Initially portrayed as a light, comedic novel, as the plot develops, things become more sinister, thus enhancing the realistic aspect of the text. Not only does Eva begin to explore the sense of things diminishing as she ages, but also the subject of illness. I think that Townsend balances the comical with the realistic when Brian’s mother is found dead, unfortunately in a hilarious situation: having fallen off a stool trying to reach something while smoking. Again realism dampens down the comedic element.
So, if you choose to delve into this brilliant book, you’ll be met with many ups and downs, much like life. But you will feel empathetic for Eva while also wanting to scream ‘PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER’ at the turn of every page. Most definitely a five-star, excellent read!
By Sophie Quenby