The Household Guide to Dying by Debra Adelaide

Published 2008 by Pan MacMillan Australia

ISBN 0330424254 (ISBN 13: 9780330424257)

The Household Guide to DyingThe Household Guide to Dying is a moving, witty, and uplifting novel about Delia, who writes an acerbic and wildly popular household advice column. 

When Delia realizes that she is losing her long battle with cancer, she decides to organize her remaining months – and her husband and children’s future lives without her – the same way she has always ordered their household.

Unlike the many faithful readers of her advice column – people who are rendered lost and confused when faced with dirty shirt collars – Delia knows just what to do. She will leave a list for her daughter’s future wedding; fill the freezer with homemade sausages, stews, and sauces; and even (maddeningly) offer her husband suggestions for a new wife. She’ll compile a lifetime’s worth of advice for her children, and she’ll even write the ultimate “Household Guide to Dying” for her fans.

There is one item on her list, however, that proves too much even for “Dear Delia,” and it is the single greatest task she had set for herself. Yet just as Delia is coming to terms with this, an unexpected visitor helps her believe in her life’s worth in a way that no list ever could.

An interesting concept for a story, and it took me a while to get into the story.  With lots of reflection on events from the past, as well as visiting places from the past, this story flicked backwards and forwards through Delia’s life as she tries to straighten out the past.

Delia is dying, and she knows it.   It is the last opportunity she has to put ghosts to rest and still write about her experiences, you see, Delia is the bestselling writer of the ‘Household Guide to…” series.

Her publisher is horrified when she brings the idea to her of writing a book about Dying.  Hoping to engage those who are on death’s door and those who are left behind, she tells of her own experiences, from buying a coffin to cooking food in advance, including a gross section of cooking part of herself for her family.

Based in Australia, this work of art is a stunning and frank read, focusing on Delia’s last few months before she passes away.  A wonderfully crafted book, weaving Delia’s past and present together and creating a future for her family.

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Mr Darcy’s Letter by Abigail Reynolds

Published November 21st 2011 by Intertidal Press

ISBN 0615571417 (ISBN13: 9780615571416)

Mr Darcy's Letter A lady’s reputation is a fragile thing. If anyone ever discovered that Miss Elizabeth Bennet had received a letter from a single gentleman, she could be ruined… or forced to marry a man she detests. In this Pride & Prejudice variation, Elizabeth takes the safer course and refuses to read Mr. Darcy’s letter of explanation.

 Returning home unaware of Wickham’s true nature, Elizabeth confesses everything to him, putting both Mr. Darcy and herself in grave danger from Wickham’s schemes.

I was nervous about reading a ‘rendition’ of Pride and Prejudice, but once I got into this, I didn’t need to be.  Abigail has managed to capture the essence and the tradition of the original book.

It is a variation though – it starts about half way through the novel after Mr Darcy has proposed to Miss Elizabeth Bennet and she declined.  He wrote her a letter, but she refused to read it, instead burning it.

That small event manages to have large repercussions throughout the remainder of the book.  Mr Wickham still seduces Lydia, but runs off before he is able to be made to marry her, so what is the Bennet family to do.

Elizabeth who renews her acquaintance with Mr Darcy and having met Miss Darcy, Mr Bingley renews his addresses to the senior Miss Bennet

Because of the disgrace the family is in, Mr Bingley is no longer able to propose to Miss Bennet and instead proposes to another lady.

The whole mess seems too much to be untangled, but Abigail does a wonderful job of bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion. 

I could go on about the characters, and the settings, but they have already been analysed before in the original Jane Austen composition.  You would seriously believe that this has been written by Miss Austen herself.

 

How to Kill Your Husband (and other handy household hints) – Kathy Lette

ISBN 0-7432-4807-4 Published by Simon and Schuster

All women want to kill their husbands some of the time.  “Where there’s a will, I intend to be in it,” wives half-joke to each other.  Marriage, it would appear, is a fun-packed frivolous hobby, only occasionally resulting in death.

But when Jazz Jardine is arrested for her husband’s murder, the joke falls flat.  Life should begin at 40, not life imprisonment for killing your spouse.

Jazz, (stay at home mum and domestic goddess), Hannah (childless career woman), and Cassie (demented working mother of two) are three ordinary women.  Their record collections are classical, not criminal.  Cassie and Hannah set out immediately to prove their best friend’s innocence, uncovering betrayal, adultery, plot twists, thinner thighs and toy boys aplenty en route.  But will their friendship survive ever darker revelations?

Jazz, Hannah and Cassie are three woman that like to bitch and fight everyone about who has the worst life.  Jazz wins hands down when she is arrested for the murder of her husband.

The story involves a flashback to tell the story from when it first started, when Jazz discovered her husband was cheating on her, Cassie realised that her life wasn’t as real as she thought and Hannah was in denial that her perfect artist husband was just draining her resources.  How they go from a women bent on revenge, two marriage collapses, numerous affairs, subterfuge, spying, miscommunication, and backstabbing is a wonderfully crafted story.

While I can’t relate to the upper class women of this story, their relationship problems makes them more real because it affects not just the upper class, but the lower class as well.  I liked the characters, and the story twist at the end was a goodie.  It really makes you wonder if you really know your friends as well as you think…

Heist Society – Ally Carter

Synopsis: 

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

My thoughts: 

I loved this book, and I can’t wait to pick up the next one.
Actually… what I loved most about this book was the main character – Kat, and the web of lies and deception that she is caught in with her friends and family.

Kat is a thief. Her whole family are thieves, and they are also thick as thieves. Kat has tried to leave the family and their little projects though, and has started boarding school.
Little does she know, but her father is in some serious trouble when a very bad man has his art collection stolen out from under him, and blames Kat’s father. Now Kat is the only one who is talented enough to prove his innocence.
Her… and the rest of the heist society that she puts together to pull the job off.

This is a definite must read for anyone who enjoys a bit of a thrill, a good laugh, great young women with attitude, and a bit of adventure.

Enjoy!

To see other reviews of this book – here are a couple that I have found:

Plum Sykes – The Debutante Divorcee

Penguin Group ISBN:  100670915955

 The most reckless and glamourous ofManhattan’s Debutante Divorcee set, Lauren captivates newly-wed Sylvia Mortimer.  But while Lauren sets out on a morality-lite, orgasm-heavy Make-Out Challenge, Sylvia discovers marriage isn’t exactly an Eternity ad, especially when the city’s most notorious Husband Huntress zeros in on her spouse.

Navigating a world of Divorce Showers, and Power Christenings, Socialite Babies, Professional Friends, Gorgeous West Village Wives and Un-Googleable Men, Sylvia fears her husband is straying and starts asking, as Lauren says, ‘Who needs a husband anyway?’ 

OK, this story is probably best understood by Manhattan’s elite and social climbers.  At times I felt out of depth reading this book, and I often wondered if it was a rather tongue in cheek look at society’s elite in New York.  But the scary thing is, I believe it is a genuine attempt at showing what life is really like.  And it is shallow.

So much time was spent on being skinny while pregnant, having the one of a kind piece of jewellery, going for a cruise at St Bart’s for a second honeymoon – a world far removed from my own precious and serious life.

As for the story, it was a good yarn, as long as you like reading a book that appears to be taking the mickey, because that was the only reason I read it.  It seemed to be full of humour and humorous situations that were just over the top.  But then that is what life could be like for them.

A nice light easy to read story that didn’t take me too long to bowl through.  The characters are superficial, even the lead character of Sylvia who seemed to be so easily led by her single friends into believing that her husband might just be carrying on behind her back.  But it all works out in the end, and if you want a light and fluffy read, without too much thinking, then this is the book for you.

3 out of 5

One Day in May – Catherine Alliott

Published by Michael Joseph (first published 2010)

ISBN 0718153626 (ISBN13: 9780718153625)

One fine day in May, Hattie’s life changes for ever… Single mother Hattie has plenty of reasons to be happy. Her antiques business is flourishing, her teenage son is settled at boarding school and she’s enjoying a fling with a younger, very sexy man. But when her job takes her back to the idyllic village of Little Crandon, painful memories of her first love – Dominic Forbes, the married politician she worked for years ago, the man who changed the course of her life – come flooding back… Things come to a head when Hattie bumps into Dominic’s widow and his gorgeous younger brother, Hal, in the village and she finds her world turned upside down. Will Hattie come clean about what really happened with Dominic all those years ago? And, if she does, is she ready to face the consequences? Whatever happens, Hattie comes to realize that you can’t keep running from your mistakes. It’s time to move on and maybe, just maybe, let herself fall in love again…

This is a library book – the first paperback I have read in a long time.  And I am pleased I persevered with it.

This is a story all about lies.  Big lies, little lies.  Lies to yourself and lies to your family.  I first started this book some time ago, and I trundled along with it, but in the last two weeks I have seriously started to get back into it.

I have to admit, that I was bowled over by the shocking admission that happens towards the end of the story.  I, as a reader, had been suckered into the lies that Hattie had managed to weave around her life, and when I read it, I was as shocked as the characters in the story.

And that is why I loved this story.  It was gritty, it was life, it was fantastic, and was real.  Hattie had spent a lifetime telling herself lies to make herself feel better, and while they didn’t unravel, it struck a chord, because often we tell ourselves lies in order to feel better about ourselves and our lives.

Hattie, as a character was shallow to start with; a married man that she had left and mourned for the rest of her young life; with a younger man that she told herself she wasn’t serious about; an adopted son that she adored, a thriving business, but there was something missing.  By the end of the story you knew what was missing.  And so did Hattie.  After years of lies, she finally found the truth.

This is definitely a four and a half stars out of five.