Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Surrey State of Affairs, by Ceri Radford

Constance Harding is a clueless 53-year-old English housewife who has started a blog at her children's suggestion--they are hoping the blog will relieve the pressure on them to listen to her prattling on about bell-ringing, flower arranging, and the flaws of her Lithuanian housekeeper Natalia. The novel presents a year's worth of blog entries, in which she learns that her son, for whom she has been relentlessly attempting to match-make, is gay; her daughter has a variety of misadventures including running off with her father's obnoxious Russian friend; and she learns her husband Jeffrey has had an affair with the aforementioned Natalia. But some time on her own in Argentina leads to personal transformation and a happy ending.

A Surrey State of Affairs is a satire on upper middle class British women of a certain age, exposing their prejudices, vapidity, and essential silliness, but the satire would be more effective if Constance weren't such a total idiot. Furthermore, while the author is attempting a "trendy" form, the blog is in fact no different from a diary, as there is no interactivity. In fact, until the end of the book, we have no idea whether anyone at all is reading Constance's blog.

Suitable for beach or ski lodge reading.

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