Heeeeellllllo readers it’s BOOK REVIEW TIME! I know that lots of people have been asking me; I’m currently not taking book reviews – although I adore my blog and I love getting requests – and I still do; I just wanted to start reading more books that have been on my TBR, like this book which has been on the list since it came out, years ago. So, if anyone’s wondering – if you do find my email address I will try to respond but at the moment – the review requests box is still shut. For now, onto the review.
The day her twins leave home, Eva climbs into bed and stays there. For seventeen years she’s wanted to yell at the world, “Stop! I want to get off!” Finally, this is her chance.
Her husband Brian, an astronomer having an unsatisfactory affair, is upset. Who will cook his dinner? Eva, he complains, is attention-seeking. But word of Eva’s defiance spreads.
Legions of fans, believing she is protesting, gather in the street, while her new friend Alexander the white-van man brings tea, toast and an unexpected sympathy. And from this odd but comforting place, Eva begins to see both herself and the world very, very differently…
One day, Eva Beaver (don’t ask about the name,) comes home and finds a dirty tomato soup spoon on the beautiful upholstered armchair (that she did by hand) and decided she’s had enough. Tipping the leftover soup over the chair, she gets into bed and simultaneously decides she’s going to go to bed for a year. Before you ask, she’s not ill, but she’s just had enough of people taking her for granted and being used and abused by other people. Getting into bed is simply a way of reversing the needs of those that don’t appreciate her, leaving the running of the house to two rather bizarre children and her horrible husband Brian – leading to pretty silly results. Mix in the handsome Alexander, the terrible Poppy and the mothers of the two (Eva and Brian) and it’s going to get even more messy.
SO, did I enjoy this? Yes and no. This book is a solid three stars for me. It’s billed as being a laugh out loud book and for me it didn’t quite do that and I’m going to try my best to explain why. Firstly the characters were incredibly caricature like; luckily Eva is the most authentic feeling of the characters, which I think is important because it helps to show the books moral (stepping back and appreciating people; in this case a woman, for the things we do.) The two twins, Brianne and Brian Junior are slightly terrifying; they are sold as geniuses but they come across as very cold and unloving towards Eva. Brian (their father) only adds to his; not only is he having a very obvious affair (his mistress actually moves into the shed with Brian) but he is so self-involved and generally annoying as hell. Additionally the twins go to university and meet a girl named Poppy who might be one of the vilest characters I’ve read about – an obsessive liar and attention seeker, if she had been ‘released’ on characters I actually felt for, it might have stirred more interest but it just didn’t work.
I think the main problem is that whilst Eva is lying in bed, nothing, just nothing can move her. Not the death of her mother in law, or Alexander declaring that he needs her, or the twins being arrested. Eva continues to lie with her family becoming more and more desperate around her; if it had been funny, maybe it would have worked but, something just didn’t quite click. It ended up feeling incredibly depressing and yet there were hints of humour. It felt like it was going to make it and for some reason it just didn’t. Additionally I thought it would have been brilliant if we could have a sequel – I won’t ruin the book, but it got to the end and I just thought AND THEN WHAT! AHRKJJKHSJKHGJKH #frustration.
I realise this sounds like a really bad review and I know I need to wrap it up kinda quickly – I did enjoy reading this. The characters and the things that happen are so crazy and the characters are so silly you can’t help but enjoy it – but was it what I was expecting; no, and for that I’m still feeling a little disappointed.
One thought on “The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend”
I came away from this book also feeling really frustrated. For starters, I didn’t find the premise remotely funny – it seemed to me that Eva was in the depths of depression after years of being overlooked and overworked. The cheap jokes (such as the name) and the horrible people around her just jarred. I’m not even sure that Townsend wrote it as a comedy – it is too poignant and the finale too tragic. I felt it was a portrait of someone who even when they chose to make a stand, simply couldn’t prevail. But I do know several perfectly nice people who thought it hilarious, so I suppose it’s just as well we’re not all the same… Thank you for a thoughtful, perceptive review on a very challenging book:)