Happy Birthday and All That

Happy Birthday and All That

3.07 (26 ratings by Goodreads)
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Posy has always dreamt of being the heroine of a Francoise Sagan novel. But life seems to have her passed by and now here she is, a stressed-out mother of four. Although she's married to a man called Parouselli who comes from a long line of trapeze artists and they live in a large, romantic house, it's not quite as magical as it sounds. Frank's dream of being a musician is a reality of distributing BettaKleen catalogues, the house is falling to bits and there are slugs living under the bath. Posy wonders how everyone else manages. Struggling through the mess of family life, she dreams of being a member of The Thin Legs Club, with an immaculate house, children who don't get ill, and a human Renault Espace of a husband. If only!show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 14mm | 181.44g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0747565678
  • 9780747565673
  • 2,037,340

Review Text

When the 2003 Granta list of promising young writers was published, there was the anticipated criticism of the small number of women writers represented. Rebecca Smith was nominated on the strength of her first work, the beautifully imagined romantic comedy The Bluebird Cafe, but failed to make the final list. Fortunately for us, this oversight appears to have spurred her on to even greater things, resulting in the publication of this delightful story in which the much harassed Posy tries and repeatedly fails to get to grips with her life, her children, her husband and (way down the list) her own needs. Set in Smith's home town of Southampton, the novel brims with humour and tenderness. Her hapless heroine tries her hardest to do the right thing by everyone, from her demanding children to her perpetual student of a husband. Frank is caught in a time warp, playing in a band, falling asleep over takeaway kebabs and taking a childish delight in practical jokes. As well as trying to hold her rapidly fragmenting world together, juggling parties, playgroup duties, home visits and the rest, Posy has the vision of her cool, calm, collected sister Flora, always before her. Flora has made a career out of organizing other people's lives, and has yet to give up hope of imposing some sense of order on her sister's shambolic existence. Smith is distantly related to Jane Austen, and her debt to the UK's most popular author is immense. She wields her pen with a delicate irony, and adopts for herself the stance of wry observer watching Posy and Frank bumble along ineffectually until disaster strikes. In less accomplished hands, this tale of the collapse of a marriage could seem pedestrian and tired. But Smith's absorption with the minutiae of the human experience, her fascination with what really makes her characters tick, lifts this novel from the merely enjoyable to the utterly fascinating. Every woman has been Posy, or at least a part of her, at some time in her life - and we have all met our own version of Frank. Smith shows us a way out of the domestic trap, but she never promised it was going to be easy. Posy knows there will have to be destruction before she can start to rebuild her life, but it takes her a year to gather up the strength to take the first steps. (Kirkus UK)show more

Review quote

'Smith's wry, bitter-sweet comedy of disappointed life is hugely appealing' Marie Claire 'A cruelly funny novel about self-delusion. Sharp, witty and clever' Sunday Mirror 'Rebecca Smith has a quirky, off-beat view of life ... she has plenty of good-humoured comedy up her sleeve, a grasp of dialogue and an eagle eye for the absurd' Daily Mail 'She's wise, sharp, funny and touching in her observation of domesticity versus dreams - and has that rare gift of kindness even as she wields the scalpel on feckless husbands and blinkered young wives. A class act' Mavis Cheekshow more

About Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith is the author of one other novel, The Bluebird Cafe. Born in London 1966, she lives in Southhampton.show more
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