Are We Having Fun Yet? – Lucy Mangan (Souvenir Press 2021)

Here’s a title from my picks for 2021 I nominated in a post at the start of the year (I’m doing extremely well with these having so far read 80%).  Back then it was provisionally titled “Diary Of A Suburban Lady” with an acknowledged E.M Delafield’s “Diary Of A Provincial Lady” as its inspiration.

It’s now got a snappier title and the Delafield connection would not be apparent to most readers.  What we have here is a year in the life of a harassed mum of two presented in a diary form.

I always enjoy reading diaries.  In fiction they can make a quick read, which is a good thing when humour is the key goal.  It’s a day-to-day battle of juggling child-care arrangements, balancing work-load between the spouses (husband Richard not doing as well as he thinks here), negotiating the school run and drop-offs and bringing up placid 7 year old Thomas and precocious set-to-rule-the-world five year old Evie.

Thematically, there are parallels with the BBC TV Comedy “Motherland” which I love, especially with the parent outsiders having to fit in with the expectations of those in the PTA.  As the year progresses the characters form stronger identities and I felt sorry leaving them at the end of the year.  It is on occasions laugh out loud funny but a good level of smile-along humour is maintained throughout.

Lucy Mangan, columnist and TV reviewer from “The Guardian” made my end of year Top 10 last time out with her sublime non-fiction account of her childhood reading habits, “Bookworm“, (I included it here within my Essential 100 Books thread), making number 3 in my 2018 Books Of The Year, so I obviously had very high expectations.  It is a very commercial work, written in a genre where fans will be loyal and supportive, it feels fresh and contemporary, so it’s a shrewd move which could sell very well indeed.  I’m aware I’m not the intended audience for this book but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It would make an excellent Christmas present for those too busy coping with family life to spend time browsing in Waterstones, or for those now with the strength to look back on how they coped as well as those contemplating raising a family.

Are We Having Fun Yet will be published by Souvenir Press on 14th October 2021.  Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the advance review copy.

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