Monday, 9 March 2015

Book review: As Good as it Gets? by Fiona Gibson

As Good As It Gets - Fiona Gibson
Published Jan 2015

“Midlife crisis? WHAT midlife crisis?!”
Charlotte Bristow is worried about her husband Will. With her 16-year-old daughter Rosie newly signed to a top modelling agency, and Will recently out of a job, things are changing in their household.
As Will dusts down his old leather trousers and starts partying with their new, fun neighbours, Charlotte begins to wonder what on earth is going on.
So when Fraser, Charlotte’s ex – and father of Rosie – suddenly arrives back on the scene, she starts to imagine what might have been…

I have just finished reading 'As Good as it Gets' and I enjoyed it so much, I thought it was best to write a review. 

The book follows the life of Charlotte, a middle age mother working to support her husband Will and their two children, after Will is made redundant from his job with an environmental charity and her daughter Rosie is signed to a modelling agency and starts asking about her biological dad, Fraser. 

The characters are all really well written - there's an impatient and expectant mother-in-law, a teenage daughter doing all she can to be 'cool' and not need her mother, an uppity judgemental neighbour and a reliable, lovely best friend - all but to name a few. As a main character, Charlotte is great. She is trying her best to support and look after her family while also improver her marriage, and it doesn't always go her own way. To me, she was a vulnerable, conflicted main character which I actually enjoyed. It's realistic. When she is having a 'moment' (I don't want to spoil anything but there is a particularly hilarious scene involving the garden shed and some waders!)  you can relate to her. We all have moments of madness, where we doubt ourselves, and Fiona brilliantly incorporates these all-too-familiar moments into the book.  

As well as following Rosie's modelling journey and Will's search for a new job, the book delves into Charlotte and Will's marriage. From the outset you can see the strain on their marriage, the missing spark between them and the way Charlotte strives to make him want her. It tugs at her insecurities - is she not sexy enough? Is she not skinny enough? - common issues that lots of women, myself included, think time and time again. But it also shows the journey she goes on to become comfortable in her own skin, acceptance of time and age and to know that she IS good enough for Will. 

As the book is written from Charlottes point of view, for most of it I found myself siding with her and, if I'm completely honest, found Will to be abrupt and rude. At first, I couldn't really understand why she didn't just call it quits and leave him. But as the book gets going, you get more of an insight into his point of view, and why he is they way he is with Charlotte. I realised there is always two sides to every story, and Fiona portrays this in an effective and gripping way. I particularly felt for Will when Fraser, Charlotte's ex and Rosie's biological father, gets in touch.  Will has brought up Rosie since she was 18 months old, and you really feel how crushed he is that she wants to meet Fraser, her real father. 

On occasion, I wanted to shake Charlotte and say 'stop nagging!' when she was asking her children what they were doing or where they were going. After finishing the book I realised this actually showed how the writing created such realistic characters - I wasn't getting annoyed because she was a really irritating character (which she isn't) but actually because it is so familiar and realistic it took me back to being a teenager myself and getting annoyed at my parents for constantly asking questions - 'what time will you be home', 'are you in for dinner?' Now I've grown up, I've realised they were actually doing this because they care and wanted me to be safe and so as much as I wanted to tell Charlotte to calm down, you can understand why she is that way - especially as her daughter is venturing into the modelling world. 

The book has emotional ups and downs and overall is a fantastically written and hilarious read. I was laughing out loud at some parts and welling up at others. All the characters are equally intriguing and relatable, but I particularly liked Charlotte and really wanted everything to go well for her. If you haven't already I would certainly recommend you get a copy of this! 

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