Saturday, January 9, 2021

"Confessions of a Forty-something" by Alexandra Potter

January's pick for the Gateway Women/NoMo book club is "Confessions of a Forty-Something" by Alexandra Potter. (Some editions use the full/original title, "Confessions of a Forty-Something F###-Up." ;)  )(We North Americans seem to be more squeamish than the Brits about the F-word, even an edited version, lol.) 

I managed to find a paperback copy of this book at my local mega-bookstore, before the latest lockdown, although it's also available in e-formats. It's a rather fat volume, with a daunting 512 pages (!!) -- albeit the copy is well spaced, in a generously large, easy-read font, and not every page includes a full page of copy (short chapters). 

I must admit, I was sold on this book right from the prologue, which welcomes "any woman who wonders how the hell she got here, and why life isn't quite how she imagined it was going to be." 

The next chapter/section -- "January" -- begins with the narrator's admission that "it's my birthday soon." -- well, I started this book on New Year's Day, with my 60th (gulp) birthday looming. 

And then, a little further down the page, the author used the word "comprises" -- correctly. Well! Be still my beating heart! lol  ;)  

(As the resident grammar guru at my office, I got asked by a senior manager once whether "comprised" or "composed" was the correct usage in a document we were reviewing.  I had no idea -- but I looked up the difference, and it's stuck with me since then. Of course, since then, I've seen "comprise" EVERYWHERE... used incorrectly, of course...!  But, I digress...)

The plot:  "Forty-something" Penelope (Nell) Stevens is back in England, after the business she ran with her fiance in California -- and their engagement -- went bust. But a lot has changed since she left. Her friends are now married with children and leading busy, Instagram-worthy lives, while Nell rents a room in a stranger's house, writes obituaries to pay the rent (on top of a loan from her father) and gingerly navigates the world of online dating. The book covers Nell's first year back in London, as she tries to get her life back on track. 

Anyone who's ever been single &/or childless in their 40s (& beyond), &/or found themselves living a life they had not planned for will recognize themselves in this book and in Nell.  It's full of spot-on observations and painfully familiar situations. It's also frequently hilarious. (The Brits do this kind of book better than anyone, I think...!) It's pretty obvious where the story is going (although, happily, it does NOT end with a miracle baby!).  But getting there is sure a whole lot of fun. :)  I enjoyed this book enormously.  (And I would love to see Judi Dench play Cricket, the 80-something widow Nell befriends, in a movie/TV adaptation, lol.)  

5 stars on Goodreads. (I debated, 4 or 5?  And I finally settled on 5, because I really did enjoy this book a lot.)

Lisa, who hosts the GW book club and recommends books for childless women in her blog, has organized a Zoom meeting for club members on Saturday, Jan. 23, which will include a conversation with "Confessions" author Alexandra Potter. Details on the Gateway Women blog here.  (It's going to be a WEE bit too early for me -- 5 a.m. my time! -- but those of you in Europe and perhaps Australia/New Zealand might be interested in tuning in!)  

This was Book #2 read to date in 2021 (and Book #2 finished in January), bringing me to 6% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 2 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2021 tagged as "2021 books." 

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