Don’t You Want Me? – India Knight (twitter | facebook)
Publication: 2002 (paperback), Penguin Books
Page Count: 260
My Rating: Good Weekend Read (Women) / A Giggle-A-Minute Read
“Sex. There’s a lot of it about. And Stella is definitely not getting her fair share. She’s also got a few handicaps; she’s the wrong side of thirty-five, she’s a single mum (to the adorable Honey), and her French hot-blooded ness is liable to turn grown men pale. Mind you, the men she meets are either perma-tanned, tight-trousered smoothies with strangely white teeth or – easy tiger – balding, poorly socialised podgers. One lot have black satin sheets; the other lot have, well, wives. What’s a girl to do?”
Mother-of-one Stella finds herself thrust firmly into the world of dating after separating from her husband, Dominic. Now house-sharing with single artist Frank (who has loud sex, making Stella feel even more out-of-touch with the modern dating scene), Stella juggles her baby girl, Honey while trying to come to grips with a world she feels ill-equipped to handle.
“When you’re part of a couple and you turn up at dinner, things are simple. You’ve made a bit of an effort, obviously, but basically you go as you. No longer; I genuinely have no idea of what I should wear in my newly separated circumstances. Clothes maketh the man and all that: I don’t know how to advertise myself.”
I loved this book from beginning to end! I bought it second-hand for $8; a serious bargain given that I have read it a handful of times and have thoroughly enjoyed it every time.
Stella is such a likeable character; she honestly could be your sister or girlfriend, and the entire tone of the novel is chatty and relaxed. I laughed along with her, groaning at her awkward dating moments and cheering her along to the end. It’s the perfect novel for a long-haul flight, because you won’t want to put it down, and when you do, you will wonder at how much time went by without you even noticing.
There were a few things I found a bit hard to swallow – Stella’s ex husband Dominic, a rich art dealer, allows Stella to remain in their marital home (which Stella re-models extravagantly, conveniently paying through the sale of some artworks Dominic left behind) and Stella has no financial stresses. She doesn’t work, and yet she hires babysitters frequently and housemate Frank seems to do most of the cooking and cleaning. I can imagine that for a reader who is divorced and not so lucky in the financial department there might be some eye-rolling moments, and I did find myself frustratedly thinking “she does NOTHING all day!!”, but from my own experience those thoughts were short-lived as I kept being sucked back into the narrative before I could really question and think too much on it (and let’s face it, novels like this aren’t too focused on their connect to reality!).
India Knight touches on some wonderfully funny topics; dating an older man (who doesn’t realise (or want to admit) that he falls into the “older man” category), attending a child care centre where the mothers are “earthy” and aren’t fussed when their children poo on the floor… I don’t want to give away all of the secrets, but trust me when I say that this novel will make you laugh out loud.
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