This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Kay Brooks
Working as a dinner lady and a care-giver for a belligerent elderly lady, then coming home to ungrateful son (who expects to be looked after like a child) leaves Audrey exhausted at the end of the day. She can’t help but wonder if there is ever going to be any time left for her. Even her boyfriend struggles to fit her into his busy agenda, organising sporadic rendezvous at motorway hotels. When Audrey wins an award for being the dinner lady of the year she is touched but the thought of spending another ten years following the same routine worries her. The prize is a getaway to a luxury hotel where she will learn how to cook fancy French food. This could be just what she’s been waiting for.
Audrey is a wonderful character. At 44 she’s a divorced, single mother who struggles financially. She has a heart of gold and fails to see negative qualities in anyone. Unfortunately, this has resulted in her being taken advantage of. I warmed to Audrey straight away, especially liking her loyalty to Mrs B, the woman she cares for. Her naivety is what causes most of her problems but, at the same time, it's what makes her vulnerable and also makes her extremely lovable.
I took an instant disliking to Morgan, Audrey’s lazy, selfish son. He seems to represent every modern negative view of older teenagers, an eighteen-year-old character who behaves more like a fourteen-year-old on their school holidays. He takes his mother for granted, wanting her at his beck and call, but is unwilling to say thank you. He’s a freeloader, living in his bedroom, spending all his time with his equally repugnant girlfriend. Together, they leave their pants lying around the house, refusing to clean up after themselves or even be slightly sociable with poor Audrey. It annoyed me that she simply put up with it, allowing him to play loud music and take no responsibility for anything. As a mother of two boys, I wondered whether a mother’s love somehow prevents you from seeing how vile your adult-offspring’s behaviour is. It wasn’t until far later in the novel that I started to see some potential in him. I wondered whether he was portrayed this way on purpose, so that the reader grows to like him. I would have liked him to have a few more redeeming more qualities. I must stress though that this didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book. A follow-up novel further exploring Morgan and his girlfriend, Gemma, would definitely be welcome!
The novel does deal with serious issues but at its heart, it is a comedy. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud-and-make-your-husband-jump moments. Morgan’s revelation of how he has dried his socks was one. What made it special for me was how much I adored Audrey. She’s a really special character: realistic, down to earth and selfless. This is the first novel I have read by Fiona Gibson but she has a new fan!