Book Review

Book Review : A Surrey State of Affairs by Ceri Radford.

Constance Harding’s comfortable corner of the Home Counties is her own little piece of heaven. Her time is spent party-planning (disastrous), matchmaking for her startlingly well-dressed son Rupert (catastrophic), and dreaming of the hat aisles at John Lewis. But she’s about to learn that her perfect home conceals scandal that would make the vicar blush.

Her Lithuanian housekeeper’s polyester underwear keeps appearing in her husband’s study, her parrot has gained a troubling new vocabulary and her daughter is turning into a Lycra-clad gap-year strumpet. As her family falls apart, Constance embarks on an extraordinary journey. From tripping in Ibiza to riding with a handsome Argentinean gaucho whose only English words are ‘Britney’ and ‘Spears’, Constance discovers a wider world she thought it was too late to find …

This book begins when Constance is persuaded by her children to start a blog, seemingly a ploy to stop them having to listen to her quite so much. Constance is certainly a lady with plenty to say, she has an opinion on everything and is more than willing to share it. She is a lady who is used to living a certain quality of life, a bit like Hyacinth Bucket without quite the same level of put on airs and graces. Her children baffle her, her husband’s increasingly distant and her best efforts to interfere in everyone’s lives don’t go down very well.

I took a little while to get used to Constance but once I did I really liked her. She is very different to me in pretty much every way imaginable but I found her blog entries to be thoroughly entertaining. For all her airs and graces and manners Constance’s existence is a sheltered one and quite often the reader can see where the story is going before she can – for me this added to the humour.

There is a good selection of supporting characters, Constance is a little more willing to talk about her friends’ and relatives’ lives in her blog than most bloggers would be, but to me this fit well with her character. It also works so that the reader gets a good picture of the various characters albeit through Constance’s exacting eyes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The blog style did take a little getting used to, it doesn’t flow in the same way as a book with a more traditional structure. Once I was used to it I couldn’t wait to move from entry to entry, seeing how the story was going to develop. I laughed so many times whilst I was reading the book – it earned me a few funny looks when I read it in a coffee shop.

A Surrey State of Affairs is published in paperback by Abacus in the UK from 31st March 2011 priced £7.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book via all of the opinions expressed are my own.

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