Notting Hell by Rachel Johnson

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Notting Hell by Rachel Johnson

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: A great poke of fun at the Notting Hill set - those that knit their own yoghurt, teach their infant children to count to ten in Mandarin and Bantu and to learn the Albanian nose flute and who compete - over everything - more fiercely than an Olympic Rowing Team for the title of Have Most in the Garden Square.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: January 2007
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-0141020839

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I confess to loving a harmless romp in the chick-lit department of my local book store and Notting Hell looked like a book with the promise of delivering a chuckle or three at the expense of the Have Yacht crowd.

Mimi and Clare are two married women living in a beautiful Georgian garden square in Notting Hill. They are best friends and best rivals, compelled to compete against each other for everything. The story is narrated alternately by both Clare and Mimi, although unless you pay attention to the chapter headings, it's fairly difficult to remember who is telling you what and you can easily get lost in the plethora of characters' and their children's and pets' names, such is the level of detail.

So, Clare has her own highly successful landscaping company, such that she is able to match her ecotect (a cross between an ecologist and an architect) husband's six figure income. The only thing that Clare would desperately love to add to her perfectly postcoded life, is a baby. Oh, that and her fond wish for the American Investment Banker who lives next door and who is building the largest eyesore of a garage ever known to man, to spontaneously combust.

Mimi has a gaggle of adorable, Kath Kidstone be-decked children, a handsome husband who provides by inheritance their gorgeous, if a little tatty, Notting Hill home and who is sadly for Mimi, lacking somewhat in the fiscal area. The only thing that Mimi would love to complete her fairytale existence is several million pounds. Oh, that and her fond wish for the sexy billionaire, Si Kasparian, who has just moved in across the square, to make all manner of eagerly acceptable indecent proposals to her.

Will Clare and Mimi ever realise their hearts' desires? Or will they feng shui themselves into an organic knot whilst trying?

Notting Hell is a surprisingly well-penned if pink and fluffy fictional frolic. The author, Rachel Johnson has a newspaper column, rather unexpectedly, in The Times and a somewhat infamous brother called Boris - you may therefore not be surprised to learn she regularly contributes to The Spectator. Notting Hell is her second foray, the first of which, The Mummy Diaries: Or How to Lose Your Husband, Children and Dog In Twelve Months I understand, made it on to the best seller list for an indecent period of time.

So it seems that Rachel has made the leap from journo to chick-lit author with a modicum of success. I have no doubt that Boris and chums have read his sister's offerings and it was probably irresistible not to feature them, homogenously, in various character traits throughout, particularly given some of the reviews I have read and their unexpected male sources.

You may enjoy Rachel's column and as such, I doubt you would want to read her literary offerings. However, it seems that if you don't like what she says in The Times, her books are a feast of fun.

I don't read The Times terribly often; had no idea that Boris was Rachel's brother until I read this book and did some research and overall thoroughly enjoyed it for everything it wasn't trying to be. It would be churlish not to recommend it.

You might also like to venture into some of the more light-hearted chick-lit novels we have reviewed here at The Bookbag. Comparables would be Emlyn Rees and Josie Lloyd's The Three Day Rule, Melissa Nathan's The Nanny, Tess Stimson's The Adultery Club and Any Way You Want Me by Lucy Diamond.

Booklists.jpg Notting Hell by Rachel Johnson is in the Bookbag's Chick Lit Picks.

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Buy Notting Hell by Rachel Johnson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Notting Hell by Rachel Johnson at


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