You’d swear too….

Why Mummy Swears Book Cover Why Mummy Swears
The struggles of an exasperated Mum
Gill Sims
Biography & Autobiography, humour, literature
HarperCollins
June 18, 2018
352

Why Mummy Swears is the much anticipated new novel from Gill Sims, author of the hilarious Why Mummy Drinks and online sensation Peter and Jane. It's every parents' nightmare - the start of the school holidays - and instead of sitting in the sun, reading a book over a cold, crisp glass of Pinot Grigio, Mummy has two bored moppets to attend to. After frantically booking sports camps, child minder slots, not to mention time off work, Mummy is exhausted. But this is only the beginning... After being dragged to join the school's PTA in the new term by an annoyingly kind-spirited neighbour, Mummy is stuck with organising the Christmas Fayre and pleasing all the overly disapproving parents. In combination with getting to know her father's surprise new glamorous (and much younger) wife, and being forced to spend more time with her narcissistic mother, life isn't cutting her much of a break. What more could possibly happen?

I giggled, giggled, and giggled some more. So many episodes rang true – if exaggerated – and I could guess that they were based on actual events, not just for her, but for us as well.

I too tried to feed my first child organic, home cooked mush – and he rejected it in favour of jars. I even tried to hide my own food in the jars but he spotted the difference.. my lovingly cooked food – many hours spent following recipes – didn’t fool him one bit. Jars from factories were preferred.

And the cost of school holidays racked up a significant amount with pony camps, adventuring in Wales, and so on for us too.

I am left wondering what could have been in her app ‘Why Mummy Drinks’ that made her so much money – I suspect a lot of people would really like one to exist! (reality check – it doesn’t exist, I know, I looked for it!)

 

Share This:

How much can we know when young?

EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT LOVE
DOLLY. ALDERTON
friendship, women's fiction, relationships, family
Penguin
Feb 2019

ith courageous honesty, Alderton documents the highs and the lows - the sex, the drugs, the nightmare landlords, the heartaches and the humiliations. Deeply funny, sometimes shocking, and admirably open-hearted and optimistic' Daily Telegraph

'A sensitive, astute and funny account of growing up millennial' Observer

'Alderton proves a razor-sharp observer of the shifting dynamics of long term female friendship' Mail on Sunday

'The book we will thrust into our friends' hands . . . that will help heal a broken heart. Alderton's wise words can resonate with women of all ages. She feels like a best friend and your older sister all rolled into one and her pages wrap around you like a warm hug' Evening Standard

'I loved its truth, self awareness, humour and most of all, its heart spilling generosity' Sophie Dahl

'Steeped in furiously funny accounts of one-night stands, ill-advised late-night taxi journeys up the M1, grubby flat-shares and the beauty of female friendships, as Alderton joyfully booze-cruises her way through her twenties' Metro

'It's so full of life and laughs - I gobbled up this book. Alderton has built something beautiful and true out of many fragments of daftness' Amy Liptrot

A memoir rather than an autobiography, based on truth and articles and columns previously published.

An insight (for me) into the world of the millenials and their lives as renters and users of dating apps and drinking especially.

We drank as students, of course we did, and there were some drugs about too, but I married young and so never really experienced a long period of post-uni dating. We did share though, even after marriage as we just couldn’t afford our flat without ‘lodgers’, so we turned a 2 bed flat into a 3 bed and lived without much of a lounge except when we all sat together to watch TV on one guy’s bed-sofa. As I stopped being a post-grad and started earning money our flat-mates gradually moved out – the last with a bit of a push!

This book was brutally truthful. a real soul baring of life as lived by Dolly. Her life’s highs and lows. Love and loss. And it cannot help but affect the reader.

I suspect we all recognise something of ourselves (especially women) in Dolly and it certainly made me think about myself and my behaviours and how they did or did not match up.

And thanks for the recipes, Dolly. I intend to make the ice-cream and a variant on the apple pizza one day – not the marzipan though as this would be just too sweet for our taste.

Share This:

Leslie Tells it Like It Is

Heavens Rage Book Cover Heavens Rage
Leslie Tate
biography, true accounts, non-fiction
TSL Publications
(28 Nov. 2016)
Kindle

HEAVEN’S RAGE is an imaginative autobiography. Reporting on feelings people don’t usually own up to, Leslie Tate explores addiction, cross-dressing and the hidden sides of families. Writing lyrically, he brings together stories of bullying, childhood dreams, thwarted creativity and late-life illness, discovering at their core the transformative power of words to rewire the brain and reconnect with life. A Robin Red breast in a Cage / Puts all Heaven in a Rage — William Blake

Leslie Tate talks about he/r book Heaven’s Rage:

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about?

There’s an urgency about writing from life, and as long as it’s well-judged, avoiding self-pity or therapeutic gushings, it can speak directly about intimate experiences and widen people’s idea of what it’s like to be human.

So I wrote my trans memoir Heaven’s Rage, inspired and encouraged by Bruce Springsteen’s refusal to play in states on the wrong side of the bathroom dispute and the rise of the trans movement. The fact that there were young trans people who were ‘out’ and accepted in schools also gave me strength.

I’d already written a trilogy of novels in third person where the subject didn’t come up – not surprisingly really, because fiction needs focus and a trans character would be a distraction. In that respect novels are edits driven by language and character, and different from life.

In life, my trans-self was a person I imagined, an inbetweener, a  Janus-type character facing both ways. I had two spirits inside me; they’d begun in opposition but by the time I wrote Heaven’s Rage the gap had narrowed. In the process I’d come to believe that being trans comes from the dream-self.

For me, it’s a case of mind over matter, a refusal to be bound by the demands of gender – although it’s quite involuntary, and not, as some people suppose, a choice or a vanity.

So, although I’d cross-dressed for years with family and friends and had left behind my youthful sense of being outcast, writing a memoir was a big step. Suddenly I had to reinvent myself on the page, speaking from the inside about who I was and finding an approach that didn’t gloss over the problems or concentrate purely on appearances.

The answer I came up with was a book in seven sections, using many different styles.

So Heaven’s Rage contains reflective prose, true-life stories, quotes, articles, interviews, poems and a play script. I went down that route to avoid the story getting ploddy. It also gave me the opportunity to look at key events from different angles.

So instead of having to rush the reader on I could go inside my different stages and tell the full story – my family inheritance and my spiritual childhood, my love of music and gardens, and my struggles with alcoholism and finding my own voice as a writer. That way, my trans experiences weren’t marked out as ‘different’ or ‘strange’ but became part of an inquiry into what it’s like to be fully human.

In the words of the blurb: ‘Heaven’s Rage is an imaginative autobiography. Reporting on feelings people don’t usually own up to, Leslie Tate explores addiction, cross-dressing and the hidden sides of families. Writing lyrically, he brings together stories of bullying, childhood dreams, thwarted creativity and late-life illness, discovering at their core the transformative power of words to rewire the brain and reconnect with life.’

  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it?

For me, the thinking time is all part of coming to terms with memory and how you feel about yourself. The therapeutic process, which takes years, has to reach a point of self-acceptance before the real writing begins. But it’s also about technique. What drives a good book is ‘the right words in the right order’ (to paraphrase Coleridge) so in a sense, style is story.

I made several attempts to write about being trans when I was younger but they were too subjective and self-indulgent – which is why I went for the bigger picture.

So my memoir is written in what you might call ‘universal first person’, taking in the wider social background and ideas current in the Fifties. Stepping back a little also helped me to see that my personal history was selective and had been shaped by my own emotional schemas. In a sense I’d always been rewriting my past, making choices about which incidents mattered most and changing how I viewed them through the power of language.

During the actual writing new material did pop up; but mostly it was a search for the exact phrase or expression, because how you articulate your past reshapes your life-script. And how you speak to yourself determines who you are.

  1. How has your book been received?

I was delighted that Jonathan Ruppin, a judge for the Costa, Geoffrey Faber, Desmond Elliott and Guardian First Book Awards, wrote the following review about Heaven’s Rage.

‘Leslie Tate’s memoir is by turns an elegy for a lost childhood, a tribute to the power of literature and a demand for the right to identity in a world that turns too easily on those who differ from the conventional.

There is a raw candour to his struggles with alcohol and coming out as transgender, but there is no self-pity here, more a gesture of companionship amid life’s twisting fortunes. Just as it is the characters who bring a story to life, so he reminds us that our lives are enriched by the characterful and the curious.

Light-footed poems stud the prose like gemstones, and these shifts of gear reflect the truth that we host not an internal monologue but a dialogue of multi-faceted voices. Leslie Tate’s joyful embrace of the gamut of linguistic possibilities is the culmination of a quest for the right to write his own story, both figuratively and now on the page.’

Bio and Links:

Leslie Tate studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and has been shortlisted for the Bridport, Geoff Stevens and Wivenhoe Prizes.

Heaven’s Rage is available, signed, at https://leslietate.com/shop/heavens-rage/ or from the publisher, TSL Books, at http://tslbooks.uk/product/heavens-rage-2/ as well as at Foyles & Amazon.

You can read about/buy his first two novels Purple at https://leslietate.com/shop/purple/

and Blue at https://leslietate.com/shop/blue/

as well as at their publisher https://www.magicoxygen.co.uk/.

The third part of his trilogy Violet can be pre-ordered at  https://leslietate.com/contact/

Leslie’s website https://leslietate.com/ carries weekly creative interviews and guest blogs showing how people use their imagination in life, in many different ways.

 

Share This:

Helen gives women emancipation?

Enter Helen Book Cover Enter Helen
Brooke Hauser
biography
Harper
May 2016

This cinematic story about legendary Cosmopolitan editor and champion of the single girl Helen Gurley Brown chronicles her rise as a cultural icon who redefined what it means to be an American woman.

In 1965, Helen Gurley Brown, author of the groundbreaking bestseller Sex and the Single Girl, took over an ailing Cosmopolitan and soon revamped it into one of the most bankable—and revolutionary—brands on the planet. At a time when women’s magazines taught housewives how to make the perfect casserole, Helen spoke directly to the single girl next door, cheekily advising her on how to pursue men, money, power, pleasure, and, most of all, personal happiness.

In this retro romp that will appeal to fans of Mad Men, journalist Brooke Hauser reveals how a self-proclaimed “mouseburger” from the Ozarks became one of the most influential women of her time. Though she was married (to the renowned movie producer David Brown), no one embodied the idea of the Cosmo Girl more than Helen, who willed, worked, and flirted her way to the top. Bringing New York City vibrantly to life during the sexual revolution and the women’s movement, and featuring a rich cast of characters, including Hugh Hefner and Gloria Steinem, Enter Helen is the riveting story of a polarizing pioneer who bucked convention to define her own destiny, baiting a generation that both revered and rejected her.

 

Sex and the single girl was published in 1961. I was too young to read it! But.. it certainly influenced a lot of people and there was a lot of discussion about it, for many years to come.

Some things I didn’t know about Helen Gurley Brown and US society in 1950-60 approx:

  1. She was married in 1959 when she was 37 years old and prior to that had had over 170 lovers, and been the mistress of many very rich and powerful men. She had deliberately chosen the chosen the role of mistress.
  2. She was very plain in fact with thin hair. But she wore wigs and thick make-up to cover her acne scars – her acne had been treated by the doctor squeezing the spots!!! She could make herself look glamorous. She was very slender and petite.
  3. In most US states in the early 1960s, the husband signed leases for their wives, also bank loans and credit cards. A woman alone needed a male sponsor.
  4. Job adverts were divided into male and female sections. Female jobs were low skilled or unskilled and often advertised with such comments as attractive personality etc. Male jobs were the attorneys, accountants, engineers.
  5. The pill provided safe birth control for women for the first time. It changed the atmosphere of a date – women were now assured of safety and thus a sexual revolution began – I remember this and going to a clinic where unmarried women were accepted!

Each chapter has a quote to start it.

Some that I like included:

‘don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she is pretty, but, my goodness, doesn’t it help?’ From Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

For me this was an interesting book that pre-dated the era in which I grew up, but also had a profound impact on my late teens and early 20s. I  found Helen an interesting character and her life was certainly quite adventurous. however, I did think that overall, the book was too long at 480 pages and thus I started to get bored about half-way through. It needed a little more ‘zip’ in the writing style.

My score of 4 is because I think it is a book that should be read to help young women understand a little of what life was like before the pill and before it was accepted that women were competent to manage their own financial affairs!

Share This: