Return of the Mc

mhari

Mhairi McFarlane’s second novel doesn’t disappoint. To be honest, I didn’t expect it to, although following ‘You Had Me At Hello’ must have been a daunting prospect. In ‘Here’s Looking At You’ once again her cast brim with life and burst off the pages, which sparkle and fizz with wit and racy dialogue.

McFarlane’s powers of observation are stunning. The result is characters that are utterly convincing. You love them, hate them, pity them and ultimately feel slightly bereft once they are gone. I go from wanting to re-arrange Fraser’s film star good looks with a few well directed punches to feeling like offering him my shoulder as he pours his heart out about Eva over a couple of  pints of Guinness. In fact, McFarlane gets under the skin of male psyche like few other. A feat in itself.

A comparison. Not long ago, I read a critically acclaimed novel by an established author (No names!) Great plot, great Mediterranean location – but the characters were tissue-thin.  Reading It reminded me of the way children perform in a nativity play: “Onceuponatimelonglongago…”

Not so here. With an enviable ability to create the magical from the mundane McFarlane, with her surgical skill, strips the layers of sexual politics and manners (or lack of) from relationships, until you get to the bare bones … and where does that fine line lie betweeen freindship and love?

AND how refreshing: a book which doesn’t make you feel you ought to go take a shower after reading.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is some sort of twee Rom Com. This is a Grown Up’s book for a Grown Up audience. Enjoy!

© Andy Daly

One Word Book Review

Here’s ‘Sitting Comfortably’s guide to what’s hot and what’s barely lukewarm in my world of books in the form of a one word review.

Mhairi McFarlane

‘You Had Me At Hello’ – Yes

Pete Townshend

‘Who I am’ – Disappointment

Maggie O’Farrell

‘The Hand That First Held Mine’ – Touching

‘After You’d Gone’ – Bereft

Nick Hornby

‘Everyone’s Reading Bastard …’ -Bitch

Jojo Moyes

‘The Girl You Left Behind’ – Stunner

‘Ship Of Brides’ – Epic

‘Silver Bay’ – Convincing

‘The Peacock Emporium’ – Tiresome

Danny Baker

‘Going To Sea  In A Sieve’ – Affirmation

Paul Myers

‘A Wizard A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio’ – Genius

David Nichols

‘A Wizard A True Star: The Unusual Career Of Todd Rundgren’ – Unreadable

John O’Farrell

‘This Is Your Life’ – Implausible

‘The Man Who Forgot His Wife’ – Read

‘May Contain Nuts’ – Nuts

Anne Tyler

‘The Ladder Of Years’ -Minutiae

Ken Follett

‘Fall Of Giants’ – Masterstoryteller

‘Winter Of The World’ – Masterstoryteller#2

Chris Welch

Genesis: The Complete Guide – Shite

P G Wodehouse

‘Jeeves Omnibus’ – Spiffing

© Andy Daly 2013

No-one likes a smart arse

I’ve just finished reading Pete Townshend’s autobiography.

I was going to write a review, but I don’t think I’ll bother.

maximum

© Andy Daly 2013

One Word Book Review

As a special service, Sitting Comfortably brings you a new, rapid and comprehensive way to choose your summer reading. One word reviews. So here we go.

Deborah Moggarch

The best exotic marigold hotel – Great

Final demand – Gripping

Driving in the dark – Surprising

The ex – wives – Warm

In the dark – Dark

Tulip fever – Errr

Hot water man – Drivel

You must be sisters – Unfinished

Tim Lott

Under the same stars – Good

Rumours of a hurricane – Better

White city blue – Best

The love secrets of Don Juan – Also

Rachel Joyce

The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry  – Beautiful

Jonas Jonasson

The hundred year old man who climbed out of the window – Infantile

Spike Webb

Mad, bad and dangerous to know – Bollocks

Andres Neuman

Traveller of the century – Irritating

Rosie Thomas

The Kashmir Shawl – Enjoyable

Sun at midnight – Slow

Lovers and newcomers – Slower

Jojo Moyes

Me before you – Stunning

Last letter from your lover – Tender

Night music – Predictable

Shaun Ryder

Twisting my melon – Large!

Damon Runyon

More than somewhat – Favourite

Sue Johnston

Things I couldn’t tell my mother – Charming

Pete Postlethwaite

A spectacle of dust – Moving

J P Davidson

Planet Word – Intellectual

Jon Savage

England’s dreaming – Essential

If You Only Ever Read One Book

The Father I Had 

by Martin Townsend

Bantam Press 2007  

If you only ever read one book in your life …

… Make sure it is this one.    

It’s a gem, which tells the  story of the Townsend family and in particular the relationship between eldest son, Martin and his Bi-Polar/Manic-Depressive father. Achingly sad, but genuinely very funny in places, it tackles the issue of living with a person who has mental health difficulties and the impact that this has on family life, head-on.  

Not quite the mindless holiday reading you were hoping for? Do yourself a favour, put down the Danielle Steel and give this a go. It will take you – I almost said …’on a roller-coaster emotional ride’ which, apart from being an awful cliché, suggests something which is much less subtle: faster, noiser, hysterical. No,…this book will take you on an emotional voyage that I guarantee you will not forget in a hurry; and is moreover, one from which you will return with a greater understanding of the strength of the Human Spirit, its resilience and capacity for love.  

“The Father I Had” allows you the priviledge of  a window into the life of a remarkable family. Its daily battles with ignorance, prejudice, often, an intransigent Heath Service; and most poignant of all its attempts to be as normal a family as possible are all thrown into sharp focus via Townsend’s writing. You share the family’s happinesses, their laughter and their pride, just as keenly as you feel their sorrows, sometimes despair, but never hoplessness at their predicament. All set against the backdrop of North West London in the 60s, 70s and 80s which is painted, it must be said with unnerving accuracy and a keen eye (and ear) for the sort of detail which will strike a chord with those who lived through the same period.  

Don’t be put off. This is not some doomy tome which will end its days stopping the kitchen door or propping the window with the broken sash. Far from it, for despite its uncompromising subject, I believe Townsend’s book will leave you uplifted, and enlightened and maybe – as it did me – cause you to look at relationships in your own life from an altogether different perspective.

© Andy Daly  2010 (Originally posted in July 2009)