“I am still alive. That is about the most positive thing I can say about my current situation. Even this state of affairs may not endure: an obstreperous airport security official confiscated my water-purification tablets. Once, in happier times, I visited the Rodin museum in Paris. There I observed the famous sculture The Gates of Hell, which featured writhing, contorted, debased and demented human forms. That is what Ibiza reminds me of.”
Constance Harding is a little perplexed by the current state of her life. Her husband is a little absent, which may have something to do with the presence of a lithe Lithuanian housekeeper; her daughter seems to be spending a lot of her gap year not in France, not helping an ecological survey, and her son seems mysteriously averse to settling down with a lovely domestic girl. When her son Rupert sets her up with a blog to document her daily happenings, she finds an outlet for her thoughts for the year.
This fluffy little domestic drama is just the thing for a lazy weekend morning. Constance is vacuous, self-obsessed and unbelievably snobbish – and highly amusing. She seems to run into a large number of obstacles, entirely of her own making, and her son’s self-imposed exile to Milton Keynes seems very wise. There were any number of clever little twists and pieces of writing; Constance’s mystification with blogs, Facebook, mobile phones – technology in general – is very funny. Mark and Tanya moving in, and Tanya’s subsequent entrepreneurial flourishing, was a poignant interlude in the superficiality of Constance’s life.
I raced through January to May without any difficulty… it was only when Sophie’s adventures went from the absurd to the ridiculous and the village antics reached their strange peak that I tired of Constance’s self-indulgent tone. I’ve only given this 6/10 because I feel it’s too light and fluffy to get more, but it is an entertaining work. Tomorrow I’ll be posting a Q&A with the author, and if this sounds like fun to you, you might like to check out Constance’s latest adventures – a blog on the Penguin website, with parenting advice for the Duchess of Cambridge…Additional information: Copy kindly provided by the publisher (Penguin USA) in return for an honest review. Publisher: Penguin, 273 pages (paperback) Order Constance Harding’s (Rather) Startling Yearfrom Amazon* * this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting