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Lindsey's Literary Leanings

Book Reviews - Contemporary Fiction / Biographies / Autobiographies

  • Lindsey Skelton-Smith

Living Dangerously (Author: Katie Fford)


Living Dangerously (Book Cover)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance


Living Dangerously By Katie Fford

Polly sometimes feels that she may be missing out on life, missing out on something anyway....or rather, other people make her feel that, as she is fairly contented with her lot in life.. she has job in the cafe (which earns her mother's disapproval every time the subject is raised), her small & rather disorganised home & the company of Selina, her flea ridden feline companion. She wonders if being a spinster at 35 really is odd as her mother, colleagues & friends appear to think. She enjoys her independence & has never craved a husband, having made the decision at an early age that men & most definitely marriage were not for her. As for children, she is quite fulfilled being 'Aunty' to Bridget's offspring.

Beth & Bridget's obsession with her sex life (or rather lack of it - all 3 times she had indulged in this particular past time it been so excruciatingly awkward it had put her off for life), was starting to make her wonder if maybe she shouldn't rule it out.

Then one evening at a friend's dinner party her hostess introduces her to David. Sparks don't exactly fly but the more they meet as they frequent the same social circles, Polly begins to wrestle with her strange attraction to the debonair millionaire & her long held beliefs that she doesn't need a man in her life.....which will win?

I started doing these reviews as I wanted to share all the novels I enjoy from my favourite authors, plus others. I was remembering back to books I read & liked years ago & recalled a book by Katie Fforde. I think I have read a number of her books, but this one stood out. I will be re-reading & reviewing it at some point. I remember enjoying her stories so thought I'd get back to her. I choose a book based on the title & the cover. I don't read the synopsis on the back cover as I don't want to be influenced when I write my own. This book, when I found it on Amazon, had on the cover, a rather fed up looking female. I read into the illustration that she could possibly be a Mum & that the title might suggest that she has an affair. It conjured up an image of a new mum letting her hair down on a wild girls night out, drinking too much & giving her number to every good looking lothario that came her way, when she has a husband at home. Waking up the next day regretting it.....

When the book actually arrived, it had a different front cover. A totally different female altogether looking pretty chuffed with herself actually, holding a huge carrot cake! Not one to be deterred from the possibility of a good read I ploughed on. The phrase 'ploughed on' turned out to be fairly accurately. The story opens with the central female character at a dinner party. From the vernacular used between the characters you could be forgiven for thinking that the story was set in the edwardian era (I did), & my misconception was re-inforced when, at the end of the meal the hostess insists that the ladies leave the men to drink port. Then Polly's inner narrative reveals that 'Melissa has antiquated notions of hospitality & it was high time she joined the twentieth century. So I figured that it must be set fairly recently, around the same time as the book (mid 90's).

The story incorporates five events: The dinner party at Melissa's House, Polly's friend Simon's art exhibition, the Promise auction, Polly's dinner party & the Craft Fayre. All of these events last for at least a few pages if not for an entire chapter & are very descriptive which is great, but only if you have a very good attention span. I found it at times to be quite drawn out & boring. Bits of it were humorous though. I personally found the language between the characters to be, & I quote 'like a plate of negotiating it's way through a cow's digestive system - a blackadderism often used by my partner but is very fitting in this instance. It is only when you realise that the characters either are very well off or consider themselves to be in the upper classes that you understand why.

Our heroine (although she doesn't actually do anything heroic) remains an enigma to me. The author tells us that she is thirty five. Well, frankly, I thought she was in her mid fifties! She works in a cafe....nothing wrong there, lives in a small cottage....ok.....but her lifestyle is quite out of sync with her age in my opinion. Her home seems constantly to be a mess, leaving washing up for days. Her only means of heating are a fire & a raeburn (it's Gloucestershire, not the wiles of Scotland), she has no washing machine or television, the latter not unheard of I grant you) & seems to do her laundry in the bath, her cat has fleas, & she listens to The Archers (again not unheard of even for a younger person).....but The World Service??.....Then after her first sexual encounter in the story (not her first ever, she'd had 3 previously), her inner thoughts reveal her worry that she might be pregnant & 'wishes that she had Bridget to refer to about her menstrual cycle'! Why doesn't she know?? It was at this point that I started to wonder if Polly had a mental health problem....

Our leading man, David, strikes me as having a bit of a multiple personality disorder. It seemed that his mood could go from 0 to 60 in no time at all but then given Polly's propensity to never know what she wants I could kind of understand his frustration. I found Polly's attitude towards her relationship with David annoying, doing her upmost to try to uphold her spinster principles, having decided that having a man in life wasn't for her, but at the same time is not against a bit of slap & tickle (& quite a bit more, I had to check I wasn't reading Mills & Boon) when David decrees it. They conduct themselves very much how a couple would in Jane Austen. Even Polly describes David's marriage proposal (of sorts) as 'something out of a costume drama', there is no mention of love, & to quote Polly once again she tells David that he sounds like a legal document.

On a lighter note, chapter 10 when Bridget takes Polly to the aerobics class really is laugh out loud ......& as is my mind's penchant for imagining the leading characters of most of my books as people from TV, Polly was Sheila Turner from Call The Midwife, & David....Stephen Read from Corrie.

This novel would definitely be a good recommendation if you were looking to spruce up your vocab. Google was a necessary accompliment at times. I will be hanging on to the book but not sure that it's one I'll read again. Will definitely be reading more Katie Fforde's though.

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