Tuesday, April 15

I Like it Like That – Claire Calman

Sensible Georgia, oldest of three, has always been the sensible one. For the rest of her family – Matt, whose two young children are mature in comparison, her absent-minded architect father, her sprouts and wafty clothed stepmother Quinn, and most of all her irresponsible aby sister, Ellen – chaos rules supreme. But George keeps chaos at bay by controlling everything within her power – her work (a counsellor in independent practice), her home (a small flat above her office), her wardrobe (black and white, everything goes with everything), and her personal life (Stephen, eminently suitable). When, in mid-session, a new tenant gouges a section out of her office door while moving in, Georgia is irate. Leo offers to repair the door, and with that one intrusion Georgia’s life begins to spin into the chaos she’s always tried to avoid.
I enjoyed I Like it Like That more as I progressed through this chick-lit-with-more novel that combines present day first person narrative with third person omniscient flashbacks to Georgia’s childhood and the death of her mother when Ellen was still very young. At first I found the flashbacks irriating and unnecessary – the information could have been incorporated in to the present day account. However, as the plot progressed, they became more illuminating and unquestionably added depth to the plot and an extra dimension to the characters, particularly Georgia.
The oldest daughter of a somewhat chaotic family, I related strongly to Georgia, and I found this enhanced my engagement with the book, but I think I would have enjoyed it anyway. There were sly touches of humour, like the Abrams Family Ten Commandments Regarding the Matter of Mess (“10 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house nor his empty worktops, nor his unencumbered chairs… for these things are a sign that he worships the false God of Order”) and the sisters reminiscences of an ex-boyfriend who, ondiscovering they were half Jewish, wanted to discuss what he called Judo-ism (“the ancient art of self-defence using only a bagel and a small accountant from Hendon”). The writing’s strong, the plot certain and the characters involving. All in all a well above average addition to a well-resourced genre. - Alex

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