Posted by: billpurdue | October 18, 2014

Can Men Like Chick Lit?

Well, I’ve done it – I’ve read an example of chick lit. Or at least that’s what I discovered from a review of the book “What would Mary Berry Do?” by Claire Sandy when I’d nearly finished it. According to Wikipedia, chick lit is “genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly”. The reason why I wanted to read this book in the first place was that it was billed as a funny book and secondly, I am a fan of the BBC series “The Great British Bake Off”, in which (for those unfamiliar with this series) several contestants compete for the winner of the series by baking all kinds of cakes, pastries and so on. The two judges of the series are Paul Hollywood, author of several books on bread and pastries and Mary Berry, a well established author of many different cookery books, including “Mary Berry’s Fast Cakes”.

 Mary berry

There’s more to just baking in Claire Sandy’s book. The central character is Marie, happily married to Robert with a teenage son, Angus, and younger twin daughters. Marie runs her own dental practice, but another dentist has set up shop opposite and threatens to poach her customers. Marie has decided she is going to learn from Mary Berry’s books how to be an expert cake maker, but Lucy who lives across the road always seems to be a better baker than her. Husband Robert, a buyer for a department store fears that his job may be in danger. Son Angus is conducting an email relationship with a girl from Scotland, or so it seems and the twin girls get up to all sorts of mischief. Marie and Lucy begin the story as arch rivals, but a dramatic turn of events leads to them becoming firm friends.

So there’s lots going on in the book, including a good dose of scandal and plenty of cake baking, but don’t worry, there aren’t any actual recipes. I would describe it as a story of suburban life with some of the hard edges smoothed off. I didn’t find it especially funny, but I wanted to read to the end. So, although the book is aimed at the female audience, males might just like it too.

Inaccuracies and misspellings.

 A non-fiction book with absolutely no mistakes or spelling errors is a rare book indeed, but how many errors does a book have to have to make it one to avoid like the plague? Michael Smith’s “Nottinghamshire Miscellany” gets dangerously close in my humble opinion. I think that most of the errors in the book are editing errors, but I could be wrong. In some parts of the book there seems to be very few, but when you come across things like the name Southall, when it clearly should say Southwell, you tend to get worried. There are other misspellings of local place names, such as Annersley instead of Annesley and Mansley instead of Mansey (a nature reserve near Eakring).

 notts miscellany

Other types of errors are to be found in the “Notable Buildings” section where there are two entries for Papplewick Pumping Station on opposite pages and, in a list of Nottinghamshire musicians, the pianist John Ogden  (born in Mansfield Woodhouse) gets no mention at all. What’s more, there is no index, a serious omission. Where did it all go wrong? I’d love to know.

In spite of all that, I still felt it was worth buying, but only at the bargain price of £2.99 (plus P&P) available from the mail order company Postscript Books

(Just to be on the safe side, my copy has the ISBN 9781859838174. It’s possible there could be a revised edition of which I am not aware)

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