Our Tiny, Useless Hearts by Toni Jordan
|Our Tiny, Useless Hearts by Toni Jordan|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A moving love story with a pronounced funny side that's incredibly well observed. That's no surprise – the writer's Toni Jordan.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: February 2017|
|Publisher: Allen & Unwin|
|External links: Author's website|
As predicted by Caroline and Janice's mother on Caroline and Henry's wedding day, their marriage is over, albeit 15 years and two daughters further along than predicted. Indeed, this is definitely not a good weekend for Janice to be babysitting at Caroline's house. There's the split and the awkwardness of the girls' schoolteacher being the other woman for a start. Then there's that mistaken identity moment involving the neighbours. At least Janice is well adjusted and over her ex-husband Alec. She still dreams of him, yes, but it's so over! Just as well really… guess who's at the door?
The book blurb includes a quote from Graeme Simsion author of the funniest rom-com ever in my opinion, assuring us that this book is laugh-out-loud funny. Yes, Toni gives us LOL moments within these pages that farce magician Feydeau himself would applaud (if he hadn't died nearly 100 years ago) yet there's more to it than laughs.
This is event-driven comedy/character-driven story at its best. We love everyone here with the possible exception of the children's teacher. I dare even the least violent to read her (warning: judgemental language ahead) forthright, short-sighted, selfish comments without wanting to slap her! Everyone else (including the slimy yet lovable Craig and his put-upon Mrs) leap from the text with such great emerging pasts and reasonings, we're automatically on their side. However this is Janice's story, Janice's (third person) narrative and so we plump for her above the other two couples who aren't having the best of marital moments.
Our heroine is sensible, scientific and great with kids. This shows in the ease with which she handles her little nieces Mercedes and Paris, out-parenting their parents… Actually come to think of it, Janice parents their parents pretty well too. Yet there's a void that becomes more apparent when we discover the reason why her marriage ended. (NB: Waterproof mascara is required!)
Indeed Toni plays our emotions seamlessly and we don't mind a bit. We laugh at Mercedes' childlike innocence around the theme of afternoon playtime while reading a poignant ocean into Paris's silence. We may be sad that Henry and Caroline are splitting and yet we smirk audibly at Henry's interesting method of telling the little ones. Then the realisation hits us through the smiles: this is real – this is what people do, especially when it comes to Caroline's damage limitation tactics. (She did what?? Yes, she did!!)
The whole story is written with a maturity of insight that's minimised by such labels as 'rom-com'. The title itself is a prime example and comes from a Janice quote that displays an underlying wistful vulnerability, peeking out under the comedy from time to time.
By the last page I realised two things: 1. I am still in love with the writings of Toni Jordan; and 2. this is now one of my favourite books. Oh and talking about the end, if you didn't need the waterproof mascara before, you will for the last bit.
(Thank you so much Allen & Unwin for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: You just know we're going to point you towards Toni's Nine Days and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. If you've read both and are looking for another tale to get you through to spring, we also most heartily recommend Ten Things I've Learnt About Love by Sarah Butler bringing a wonderful originality to a tale of affection. If you fancy another giggle then try Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes.
You can read more book reviews or buy Our Tiny, Useless Hearts by Toni Jordan at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Our Tiny, Useless Hearts by Toni Jordan at Amazon.com.
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