Alice never imagined that she would end up like this. Is she the only mother who feels so permanently panic-stricken at the terrors of the modern world - or is it normal to sit up in bed all night popping bubble wrap? She worries that too much gluten and dairy may be hindering her children's mental arithmetic. She frets that there are too many cars on the road to let them out of the 4x4. Finally she resolves to take control and tackle her biggest worry of all: her daughter is definitely not going to fail that crucial secondary school entrance exam. Because Alice has decided to take the test in her place...
With his trademark comic eye for detail, John O'Farrell has produced a funny and provocative book that will make you laugh, cry and vow never to become that sort of parent. And then you can pass it on to your seven-year-old, because she really ought to be reading grown-up novels by now...
O'Farrell (This Is Your Life) is a big deal in Britain: joke writer for Blair; columns in the Guardian and the Independent; various sitcom-writing successes. In his fourth novel, Alice and David Chaplin live in south London with three young children and two conflicting obsessions: parenting their children to greatness, and shielding them from harm. Related from Alice's first-person perspective, this shrill mix produces a particularly hilarious and harebrained scheme: to protect daughter Molly from rejection by the local elite private school (and to get her in), Alice, conveniently petite and noncurvaceous, will masquerade as Molly and sit for the test. Some riotously funny situations result, with Alice deadpanning and kibitzing the whole way. Perfectly named "friends" Philip and Ffion prove perfect foils again and again, as the parents compare (precisely: Ffion e-mails an elaborate chart) their children's achievements. There are some downsides: neuroses are simply stated as fact and then slapsticked, while larger issues like urban decay and racial profiling are raised but not addressed. What O'Farrell does accomplish is a near-flawless caricature of 21st-century upper-middle-class parenthood.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Very funny from start to finish!