Book club: clean toilets and rampant hamsters

13 Apr 2012 @ 11.13 am
| Entertainment

Jo Haywood kicks off our book club with one novel she’s just finished and another she’s about to start

I’ve just put down… Various Pets Alive & Dead by Marina Lewycka

And the prize for the most bizarre yet pleasing book title of the year goes once again to Sheffield-based author Marina Lewycka, a previous winner with A Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian and, my personal favourite, We Are All Made Of Glue.

This typically quirky family saga centres around Marcus and Doro, a couple of left-wing leftovers from a 1960s lentil-loving commune in Doncaster (of all places), and their children, Serge, who pretends he’s still doing maths at Cambridge while actually earning a six-figure salary in the City; Clara, a primary school teacher who craves order and clean toilets, but is continually foiled by uncooperative children and rampant hamsters; and Oolie Anna, who has Down’s Syndrome, a kick-ass attitude and a mouth almost as foul as her father’s bean curd-fuelled farts.

The author has once again used her trusty triumvirate of irony, farce and wit to create this very funny, and often touching, riff on modern values.

And as if that wasn’t enough, she also manages to explain the convoluted financial practice of naked short selling (which is not half as much fun as it sounds), spread betting and the Machiavellian roles of quants and traders without making her reader want to gouge their own eyes out. Robert Peston, please take note.

I’ve just picked up… Trick Of The Dark by Val McDermid


I haven’t read a blood-soaked, gore-splattered McDermid for years, but this stand-alone novel set in an Oxford college might just be the one to draw me back in to her dark, brutal world.


Have you read either author? What are you reading now? Let us know.