I love a book that makes me laugh. But actually finding genuinely funny novels is really quite a challenge. It is not often that a writer comes along and is able to weave a story that is filled with humour without tipping over into the unbelievable and absurd.
But Jane Ions in her recent offering, Domestic Bliss and Other Disasters published this week by Bluemoose has managed to pull it off! Welcome to the world of Sally Forth!
Sally is a semi retired teacher, working just a few afternoons a week at the local school supporting Lee , her wayward but strangely charming student. Sally is married to Bill, a senior and increasingly high profile politician. Sally’s children have left home and she is looking forward to space for herself. An chance to start a new chapter and redefine her own role in the world.
Life, however, seems to have other ideas. Other people’s lives are complicated and some how Sally seems to be at the centre of them all. Her son Dan returns and, equipped with a new passion for environmental awareness, he sets about building an Eco extension to the family home. This attracts attention and a surprising amount of people, many of whom seem to become unexpected but quite permanent fixtures in Sally’s life.
Add in her rather strained and at times uncomfortably competitive relationships with lifelong friends Jen and Judith, and her daughter Emma, who is straining at the leash of recent motherhood, and Sally’s life suddenly seems rather complicated.
This novels is a delightful mesh of the everyday, a celebration of how life can suddenly take off in directions we never ever imagined and the all the humour that accompanies that. It is filled with a host of characters, each with there own motivations and wry asides on life. And it is a cast list that comes together to provide light hearted, simple joy.
Quite simply, I enjoyed this book. I appreciated the humour, and the skill with which the domestic is woven into a plot that leaves no stone unturned, and gives every character within a perspective and importantly a voice. Our narrator Sally is intelligent, insightful and importantly for a novel of this kind, very, very funny!! A middle age women with spark, opinions and wry perspective on everything life throws her way.
This book is unlike anything else I have read this year and it was a welcome oasis from a world that increasingly seems to take it’s self far too seriously.