|The Generation Game by Sophie Duffy|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: An interesting debut that's both funny and sad, very readable and with a wonderfully written, unexpected ending!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 319||Date: August 2011|
|Publisher: Legend Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Do you remember The Generation Game TV show, with old Brucie and then Larry Grayson managing the mayhem? Where were you when Charles and Di got married? What about when Diana died? There's plenty of reminiscing to be done in this book as Sophie Duffy takes us from the 1960's to 2006 through the life of her character, Philippa, in a book that fleets from funny, heartwarming moments to real sadness.
Through the story we get to find out Philippa's life story, or rather we see it happening before our eyes, her birth, her mother moving them both from London to Torquay, her mother's affairs and the troubles they cause before Philippa is abandoned by her and raised by those whom her mother leaves behind. Philippa has just become a mother herself at the start of the book, so there's lots about motherhood, about the nature of the relationship between a mother and her daughter, as well as about growing up generally and discovering who you are.
I must admit that I sometimes found the book's format a little irritating. It's one of those stories that has a little bit in present day (well, 2006) and then a chapter from the past, then another bit from present day, and then back to the past. I really liked reading the past sections, but the present day parts annoyed me. Philippa seemed to have grown up into someone so ineffectual and nervous and lost that it made me feel both sad and annoyed! Still, I'm here to say that if these interruptions get your goat too, stick with it and pay a little bit of attention to what's happening, as it's definitely worth it for the payback at the end...what might have been a non-committal 3 star 'you might want to borrow it' definitely turned into a 4 star 'this is worth reading' sort of book!
Although I'm a little bit younger than Philippa I found that a lot of the references through the book also had meaning to me from my own childhood, and so I had that warm nostalgic feel as I read. I found there were lots of moments when I didn't much like Philippa, although I felt sorry for her, but I really loved some of the other characters such as Bob Sugar (who owns the sweet shop/newsagents where Philippa lives - what a great name!) and also Wink, the elderly lady with an outspoken parrot who gets adopted into their family too. It's a real family drama, with plenty of humour as well as moments of tragedy, and although I can't possibly say what happens in the end without ruining the whole book I thought it was deftly written, very moving and I didn't expect it at all!
The book is perhaps a little bit too long, and there is one relationship that occurs that I wasn't entirely convinced by, but I thought this was an enjoyable read and would certainly look out for future books by Sophie Duffy.
Further reading suggestion: If you enjoy stories that move between past and present you might also want to try Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson who is a wonderful writer of great characters.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Generation Game by Sophie Duffy at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Generation Game by Sophie Duffy at Amazon.com.
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