The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Book Review)

03/10/2011 § Leave a comment

The Help is set in 60s America’s Deep South, told from the points of view of two black maids and a white society lady, Skeeter, whose journalistic ambitions lead her to confront the shocking realities of living a life of servitude for less than minimum wage. Skeeter’s project provides the novel with a conduit through which a wealth of anecdotes surface. Whilst numerous incidents are harrowing, many are brimming with love and humour. The three distinct but complimentary voices are perfectly drawn, and Stockett’s bold choice to adopt voices of black Mississippian women paid off superbly. It’s popularity is well-earned.

Pets in a Pickle by Malcolm Welshman (Book Review)

22/09/2011 § 1 Comment

Join Paul Mitchell, a newly qualified vet, as he embarks upon his first job at Prospect House Veterinary Hospital. Along the way you will meet a multitude of hilarious and bizarre characters with afflictions including baldness, bites and obesity. And that’s not just the animals. Pets in a Pickle is a light-hearted romp that will certainly appeal to animal lovers and provide some genuine laugh out loud moments. Welshman has Paul’s veterinary experiences play out as pun-tastic thematic comedy sketches. The wordplay may be a little cringey at times, but that’s all part of the light hearted and frivolous fun.

The Snow Whale by John Minichillo (Book review)

08/08/2011 § Leave a comment

This retelling of Moby Dick sees a contemporary John Jacobs turn his mediocre life inside out after learning (via a dubious DNA test) that he is of predominantly Inuit descent. The brave move to describe a modern American white man leaving an almost-happily married life in suburbia to hunt whales is, of course, utterly absurd. Sadly the novel isn’t quite funny enough to pull of its ludicrousness and Minichillo, like Melville before him, too late submerges the reader in engaging adventure. A quirky and readable homage for those familiar with its predecessor, The Snow Whale is otherwise unjustifiably ridiculous.

The Donor by Helen Fitzgerald (Book Review)

30/07/2011 § 4 Comments

Will is a loser; his writing career was a non-starter and his wife left him. But this story isn’t about these things; it’s about the advancing kidney disease of both of the twin daughters his wife left him with, and Will’s efforts to save them. Fitzgerald creates a small unit of exquisitely flawed characters who, despite their disparities, are impossible to not empathise with. At times outright hilarious, this book entertains and enthrals the reader whilst focusing intensely on the disquietingly identifiable people within it. You will certainly end up rooting, along with Will, for a seemingly impossible happy ending.

Eleven by Mark Watson Review

07/06/2011 § Leave a comment

*As featured in Stylist Magazine*

Xavier is a radio DJ who triggers a chain of consequences that reach out across the city as invisibly yet decisively as the radio waves he broadcasts. As events build momentum Watson settles into a narrative that is at once droll and devastating, littered with insightful analogies. Having been aligned with David Nicholls’ One Day, Eleven had a lot to live up to. But it’s true that those who enjoyed the former should engage with the latter. Despite providing less suppress-a-giggle-on-the-tube comedy, Watson finds his strength within a multitude of relatable characters and thought provoking circumstances.

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