In my opinion, female British writers write the best chick-lit.
Sweet Nothings, by Sheila Norton is a clever and funny book in the chick-lit genre. I particularly enjoyed Sweet Nothings because it isn’t politically correct. I’m sick of books where the characters smile sweetly and apologise when they say ‘Darn’. The female characters in Sweet Nothings swear properly, (and by this I mean they use the F-word), get drunk, fantasise about movie stars and fight with their families.
This story is told in alternating chapters by an English mother and daughter, Penny and Michelle, who live in Panbridge Park, a fictional English town with a traffic problem.
Michelle is a twenty-something Nurse’s Aide, who is shacked up with her boyfriend, Robbie. The story begins with Michelle and Robbie out to lunch, when he mysteriously disappears. Michelle isn’t very upset or worried about his wellbeing, which is a clear sign she should have dumped him years ago.
Later that same afternoon, Penny is interviewed by a shock-jock radio star, as she is the spokeswoman for a local action group who are campaigning to have a bypass built around Panbridge Park. In her frustration at being asked questions irrelevant to the cause, Penny answers a question about how she keeps her husband happy with a flippant answer about her Bread and Butter Pudding.
Robbie doesn’t turn up again and Michelle eventually moves back home with her parents. Michelle’s story evolves around dealing with people who Robbie owed money to, her career and her would-be romances, in between fights with her brother and dealing with her three year old niece Jessica, who no doubt will one day star in her own chick-lit novel.
After Penny’s throwaway line about her pudding, it takes on a life of its own, when the story is picked up in the media throughout England. Penny follows the advice of the radio interviewer not to divulge the recipe and despite her irritation, she is able to use the attention for the good of the bypass. Penny’s story is just as interesting as Michelle’s; career issues, fending off her husband’s advances after years of no interest at all, deciding whether or not to fend off her employer’s advances, and dealing with petty jealousies and irritating people on the bypass action group committee.
Sweet Nothings isn’t a story that will live on in my memory forever, but I had a good time reading this book and would recommend this story for a good time.