Daniel Hernandez Hernandez من عند مقاطعة دافي، كارولاينا الشمالية، الولايات المتحدة
I'm no stranger to smiling or giggling at words on a page, but this book had me guffawing--out loud, alone--a number of times. It's just damn fun. This and the second book--The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab--are available in one paperback together, but I really dig the little hardcover versions. The third book has them adventuring with Communists. Heh. I can't wait.
the main difference between madeleine wickham's books & sophie kinsella's books is that when wickham writes under her real name, she forgets that ther novels should have at least one bearable character or un-hackneyed situation. in this one, two families are offered the use of a spanish villa owned by a mutual friend. chloe is the matriarch of family #1. she is partnered to (but not married to) a banker named phillip. phillip's bank recently merged with a much larger company, & phillip is anxiously waiting to learn whether or not his branch is being shut down, leaving him unemployed. chloe & phillip have two children: a 16-year-old son named sam (chloe's child with a long-ago ex-boyfriend, but adopted by phillip) & 9-year-old nat. the other family is comprised of two little girls named beatrice & octavia, & their parents, stay-at-home mother amanda & corporate decision-maker hugh. as it turns out, hugh had briefly dated chloe many years before, when they were both quite young. things had gone swimmingly until chloe confessed that she had a none-month-old son (baby sam). hugh couldn't begin to imagine taking on the responsibilities of stepfatherhood, so he cut & run, never giving chloe any kind of explanations for his behavior. in another coincidence, hugh works for the major corporate entity that bought the bank that employs phillip. hugh & amanda are also employing a nanny for the week, named jenna. she is the only remotely enjoyable character in the entire book, but even she is kind of fucked up. so hugh & chloe recognize each other right away. & they are still attracted to each other. this aspect of the plot is fairly unbelievable considering that they dated for like two months. that's not exactly star-crossed lovers territory. hugh & phillip don't realize that they are bound together by their employments because chloe won't let phillip talk about his work. she thinks he's being obsesseive about whether or not he's going to get fired & she wants to spend the vacation not worrying about it. why i don't like these characters: chloe: i think it's kind of fucked up & very insensitive that she won't let phillip talk about his concerns over getting fired. obviously if he loses his job, that is going to mean big upheaval for the entire family. the dude is understandably panicked. but chloe actually screams at him at one point when she catches him on the phone, checking in with a co-worker about whether or not there's any news about their branch closing down. she also is bafflingly attracted to hugh, despite the fact that she is enraged with him for abandoning her all those years ago after he found out about baby sam. never mind that she has a long-term partner & another child, & hugh has a wife & two little girls. chloe's attraction to hugh is the most traditional "romance" aspect of the book, & it rings completely hollow. phillip: he's okay. just kind of clueless about chloe's feelings for hugh (he never even knew they had dated or known each other previously) & obsessive about his job. amanda: she doesn't really let hugh involve himself in any kind of parenting, & then complains that she may as well be a single mother for all the help she gets from him. she is obsessed with re-decorating her house & bosses around her decorators in such a way that i don't think she realizes that decorators are not slaves. but she does get points for being a really involved & caring mother. sam: i hate this little asshole. all he does is think about whether or not he has a chance to bone someone on his spanish holiday. he even scopes out amanda's rack. he basically walks right up to jenna, the nanny, & is like, "so...wanna fuck?" & she she laughs at him, he gets sulky & treats her rudely. because he's entitled to sex, right? & any woman that won't give it up is just a bitch, right? didn't chloe raise this kid to have any respect for women at all? nat: no big problems with him, though it's obnoxious that his parents take him to a spanish villa & he spends the whole time watching TV & playing video games. beatrice & octavia: i feel that they are unrealistically well-behaved children, but other than that, no big issue. jenna: i thought she was funny...until she agreed to have sex with sam. she's young, but she's still an adult woman who probably shouldn't be bedding a teenage boy. she seems like a really good nanny though. great with kids when she's not having sex with them. anyway, chloe eventually concludes that gerard engineered the whole villa double-booking in order to bring her & hugh back together again. she thinks gerard would find it amusing to watch them struggle with their temptation to sleep together again. eventually they both end up in the little nearby town, where they rent a motel room & have sex. chloe kind of immediately regrets it because she still thinks hugh is a jerk, but hugh is all, "chloe, i'm in love with you! let's run away & be together! i could kick myself for giving up the chance to be sam's father!" etc etc. no word on why he regrets abandoning sam so much while he is in the midst of preparing to abandon his own two children. after they go back to the villa, hugh & phillip get drunk together & phillip admits that he works for the bank hugh's company bought & that he fears being fired. hugh realizes that if phillip loses his job, chloe will never leave him for hugh. so hugh tries to pull some strings to make sure phillip doesn't get fired. it doesn't work & phillip gets fired anyway. & he finds out that hugh works for the company that caused him to get fired. hugh stars to wonder if this was gerard's plot all along--to put the corporate downsizer in a villa with the downsized for a week & what the fur fly. while he's freaking out about it in the office, gerard calls & basically confirms his theory. hugh starts to ask if gerard also intended to throw hugh & chloe together again, but it turns out that their romance was so brief, gerard never even knew they were together. hugh quickly back-pedals. hugh goes out to the pool & is all, "phillip getting fired taught me that family is what matters. that's why i quit my job to be a stay-at-home dad." amanda panics, but phillip is all, "good for you! family is what matters!" chloe is like, "um...yeah. totally." jenna is all, "hey amanda, chloe boned your husband." everyone freezes & then jenna says, "just kidding." they all decide they hate gerard for putting them into this awkward confront-their-demons situation & they go home, never to see each other again. seriously. isn't that the worst conclusion ever? oh, & hugh didn't really quit his job. he thought about it but was too scared to do it, just like he was too scared to continue dating chloe after he realized she had a child. he's just letting amanda sweat it for a while for his own amusement. what a great guy. his wife & children sure are fortunate to have him around. this book sucked. don't make my mistakes. leave it on the shelf.