Thursday, 1 October 2015

Book Review: The Misadventures of a Playground Mother by Christie Barlow

"New term. New dramas. New friendships. And that’s just the parents…

After a year of country living, Rachel Young is finally getting into the swing of things. Her four kids are happy and content at the village school, and she’s managed to navigate the choppy (shark-infested) waters of the playground mafia. 

Or… so she thought. 

When playground mum Penelope Kensington moves herself and her kids into Rachel’s home, after discovering husband Rupert has been having an affair, Rachel knows she must ask them politely to leave. The problem is, Penelope never takes no for an answer. 

As Rachel tries to deal with Penelope, she also meets new school mum Melanie. Melanie is a breath of fresh air, but her arrival sends ripples of gossip through the playground. Melanie has a few secrets in her closet, and it seems she’s not the only one…"

So I must admit that the first story in this series, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother passed me by. But I saw the cover for the second in the series, Misadventures of a Playground Mother, and I was immediately drawn in - it was bright and colourful and once I read the blurb, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. 

The story follows Rachel, who lives in a small village where no piece of gossip is left unheard. Everyone knows everyone, and the village playground is at the centre of the gossip - if anything happens, then you're sure to find out about it at the school gates. You don't need to have read the first book of the series to understand what's going on in this one (I hadn't, and it all made perfect sense.) It could be read as part of the series or a stand-alone and work both ways. 

Rachel is a great main character to follow, she was so down to earth and normal. Actually, the whole story just has a realistic vibe, its the kind of book you read but you forget you're reading, you just feel like you're transported into their world and sat having a cuppa with friends. 

Speaking of friends, one of the other characters in the book, Penelope, made me soooo frustrated! She certainly provoked a reaction from me, I wanted to scream at Rachel to tell her to go away and leave her alone, especially in certain situations, like when her and her family gatecrash their holiday. 

On occasion, I found the dialogue slightly stilted and very formal, it sometimes didn't seem like an actual conversation. Considering how well written the characters are, and how normal they seem, the super-formal language kind of contradicted their character. It wasn't the case throughout the whole book though, so it didn't bother me too much.

A lot happens during the story, the plot is fast paced with a lot of key events. I won't say too many, as I think it's what makes the story so entertaining, but it certainly covers a lot of situations. If I'm completely honest, I didn't think the events of the last few chapters were needed, as it seemed quite rushed. I don't want to spoil it, but I will say that unless its leading somewhere, I don't really see the need. Although there's some brief build-up to it, it didn't  get the focus it deserved - I really think that should be a book in itself. (Maybe, just maybe.... it will be?! - I have no idea by the way, just speculating!) 

I was hooked by the story from the offset and found it so true to life and entertaining. Overall, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother is a really fun, light-hearted read that I really enjoyed. I'm so glad I've been introduced to Christie's writing, it's engaging and well thought-through, and provides a funny take on village life. 

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