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.

Book News- Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction Longlist Announced


There’s more than a little flurry of excitement following the announcement of the longlist for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. It has obviously been a very good year for women’s fiction with some big prize-winners and less obvious titles on the list. I haven’t got round to reading any of them yet (I knew I’d regret that New Year’s Resolution of only reading books I already had at home and not buying any more until my To Be Read pile had diminished) but I do have until the 13th April until the shortlist is announced. I am a big fan of Sarah Waters and have read all of her books (apart from her new one) so it’s great to see her here. The Ali Smith and Emma Healey titles have been scooping up other big literary prizes. I keep hearing good things about “The Bees” and would find it hard to resist a book with a title like “The Life Of A Banana”. Can’t wait to see which ones will make the shortlist.

More information can be found on their website at

The Longlist 

  • Rachel Cusk – Outline
  • Lissa Evans – Crooked Heart
  • Patricia Ferguson – Aren’t We Sisters?
  • Xiaolu Guo – I Am China
  • Samantha Harvey – Dear Thief
  • Emma Healey – Elizabeth is Missing
  • Emily St John Mandel – Station Eleven
  • Grace McCleen – The Offering
  • Sandra Newman – The Country of Ice Cream Star
  • Heather O’Neill – The Girl Who Was Saturday Night
  • Laline Paull – The Bees
  • Marie Phillips – The Table of Less Valued Knights
  • Rachel Seiffert – The Walk Home
  • Kamila Shamsie – A God in Every Stone
  • Ali Smith – How to be Both
  • Sara Taylor – The Shore
  • Anne Tyler – A Spool of Blue Thread
  • Sarah Waters – The Paying Guests
  • Jemma Wayne – After Before
  • PP Wong – The Life of a Banana

The winner is due to be announced on 3rd June.  The winner will receive £30,000 and the “Bessie” trophy.