My Family and Other Disasters (by Lucy Mangan)

Even when we lived in the UK, we were not readers of The Guardian. So when I was sent this book by 'The Bookbag' site for review, I had no idea who Lucy Mangan was, or what she wrote about. The title of the book appealed to me, as an obvious spoof on the better-known 'My Family and Other Animals' (by Gerald Durrell), as did the idea of reading a selection of humorous columns from a British paper.

I enjoyed the introduction, by The Guardian deputy editor, describing how he recognised Lucy Mangan's writing talent and introduced her to the world of writing regular columns.

Unfortunately, in the introduction, the best lines in the book are quoted. Out of context, they are not particularly amusing... and by the time I read them in context, later in the book, they weren't amusing either because I knew they were coming. So my first mistake was to read the intro before I read the rest of the book. It would have been better as an epilogue.

Having said that, I did feel a sense of kinship with Lucy Mangan in some of her articles. She's evidently an Introvert, as I am, and also a book-lover. In a serious way. I enjoyed her writing style too - she has quite a turn of phrase, and an apt choice of words at times - and some of the columns made me smile.
On the other hand, some of them seemed extremely trite. I don't blame her: if I had to write a daily column, I'm sure I would turn out a lot of pointless drivel in addition to - possibly - some more interesting and relevant articles. Inspiration doesn't necessarily strike in the same way every day, after all. But since this book was a collection - sorted into five broad categories - it's a pity the editor didn't remove some of the more silly columns altogether.

Not a book to read through in a few sittings, but fun to dip into. I shall probably leave it in our guest flat, so that visitors who feel so inclined have something light and mildly amusing to take to the beach.

Available in Kindle form as well as paperback.

You can also read my longer review of 'My Family and Other Disasters' at the Bookbag site.

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