The Importance of Being Myrtle by Ulrika Jonsson

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The Importance of Being Myrtle by Ulrika Jonsson

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: Middle-aged husband, father and grandfather Austin dies suddenly on his way to work. His meek wife (Myrtle) spills some painful family secrets in her effort to move on with her life.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: September 2011
Publisher: Penguin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0141043203

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The front cover is lovely; it's good enough to frame and along with the intriguing title will help to draw readers in, I think. The blurb on the back cover suggests a cosy, domestic read. I was looking forward to it. We initially get all the sorry details leading up to Austin's untimely death. On the local bus, of all places, as he made his way to work. A kindly Italian/Australian man called Gianni sees it all happening (in fact Austin dies in his arms). We also get a lot of background info on Gianni, right at the very beginning, which I thought slowed up the story somewhat.

But I was even more dismayed as Jonsson seemed to have swallowed the Oxford English Dictionary for breakfast and is determined to use as many fancy words as possible - where simpler words would, in my opinion, be twice as effective. Lines such as ... a smile that was as baffled, amused and full of wonderment as it always was ... and ... the paramedics loaded him into the ambulance with the efficiency born of regularity and But uncertainty and an instant and painful sadness partnered his consternation did not do it for me. If anything, all this unnecessary language was putting me off the story. Far too long-winded and as if Jonsson was trying too hard. Not a good start. I was only on page 9 and I was thinking that if the rest of the book was in this over-the-top style then I was in for rather an exhausting read.

But I'm delighted to say that the narrative settled down and I started to enjoy the book. But before we meet Myrtle, who is after all the central character, we do a bit of a detour and meet her bright and bubbly next door neighbour, Dorothy. She's all sparkly tops, high heels and a laugh a minute. And as with Gainni, we have a veritable dossier on her past life. I waded through it.

And, at last, we get to Myrtle. Down-trodden, wouldn't say boo to a goose, Myrtle. Is this her normal personality or has she ended up like that after more than forty years married to a man like Austin? We find out over the course of the novel. We learn that Austin was a man for routine, a self-disciplinarian and a man who was not a lot of fun to be around. We go back in time to Myrtle and Austin courtship - well, if you could call it that and also to their early married life together. And I was enjoying the story more and more.

This is a book with family at its heart. And also long-held secrets which soured lives. There are two grown-up daughters in the story. They are like chalk and cheese. They also had an uneasy relationship with their father, Austin and still have (or one sister does) an uneasy relationship with their mother, Myrtle. We get the inside story and of the family dynamics. An enjoyable story. Ideal for a lazy weekend with a big bar of chocolate in one hand and/or a glass of something chilled in the other. Enjoy. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might like to try Coming Home by Melanie Rose.

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Buy The Importance of Being Myrtle by Ulrika Jonsson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Importance of Being Myrtle by Ulrika Jonsson at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Importance of Being Myrtle by Ulrika Jonsson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Importance of Being Myrtle by Ulrika Jonsson at


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