I think I just failed ChickLit 101. I recall that I failed it once before, many years ago, and ended up having a deluge of women accusing me of everything from being a male chauvinist pig to just being illiterate, because I did not like a book written by one of their brood (or should that be ‘breed’)? I am sorry I can neither remember the name of the book, nor the author, having expunged both from my memory. But it did happen, showing that people do read book reviews.
However, I had failed to see the connection when I spotted Miranda Hart’s Is It Just Me (ISBN 978-1-444-73416-4, Hodder and Stoughton, 2013) on the Bookazine shelves, with “Warning: You will laugh out loud on public transport while reading this,” on the front cover, and “Bear with, bear with, it’s hilarious” (Woman magazine).
The concept is novel, with each chapter being a running exchange between the author as an 18 year old, and the author as a mature woman. A clever discourse takes place between the two Miranda Harts in the chapter dealing with the electronic aids, thought of as an every day occurrence now while trying to explain them to a disbelieving 18 year old way back ‘then’ Unfortunately, as clever and novel an approach, it finally becomes repetitive and eventually boring.
The chapters cover most of what I imagine is important for women, including hobbies, office life, technology, beauty, exercise, diets, health, holidays, mothers and children and dating, weddings, culture and dreams.
Now, undoubtedly, one’s attitude to some of the topics in the chapters does change with age, and dare I say it – maturity. I am sure that building an Eiffel Tower out of paper clips can be screamingly funny, but one does grow out of these life changing events. Especially by the time one reaches 18. Surely?
Other items which are “funny” include (and I quote) “rammed a vol-au-vent onto someone’s nose at a formal gathering,” and “set up an oddly shaped socially awkward people who have no talent for ballet.” Sorry, but on a laugh out loud scale of 1 to 10 this would rate a big fat zero, even when I was 18. (Or do women/girls mature later than boys? I had always thought it was the other way round, but perhaps this example of ChikLit is teaching me something?)
I should have paid more attention to the back cover quotes, with this one telling it as it really is, “It’s very funny indeed … we applaud this bumbling, childish and splendid attempt to create such a guide.” Sorry, but the humor escaped me so I did not find it “very funny indeed”, but it certainly was bumbling and childish.
If this is ChickLit, then once more I stumble at the gate, and will prepare myself for the vitriolic emails. However, if you are in the market for a bumbling childish book, this one will set you back B. 435.
In its favor, perhaps it gets better towards the end of the book. I couldn’t get that far. Best of luck.