Book Review – The Best Things by Mel Giedroyc
First published, 1st April 2021 (I know. Get me)
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
The story follows Sally Parker. Married early to Hayes, teenage wheeler-dealer, Frank, who could charm the birds from the trees even when they were kids, Sally is now the mother three children, and semi-adopted Mum to her teenage niece. Sally, Frank and their family live in astonishing luxury. Almost grotesque luxury. Nothing is out of their price range and they do it in style, with their obsolete nanny (the youngest child is 11), their sour-mouthed housekeeper, and Frank’s prized collection of thirty-two lawnmowers (which he and his buddies race at parties).
And Sally is falling apart. She has no purpose. She’s never really had a job. Her children don’t need her because their every whim is catered to by the staff. Her husband doesn’t need her input because he’s forever schmoozing in the City or lording it up at the golf club. Sally makes little mental notes to herself about the conversations she should have, as she knocks back the valium.
After making a bit of a scene at a garden party they were hosting, Sally soon finds herself in stormy waters when the financial crisis breaks and the family is soon drifting along with her – with no money and very quickly finding out who their friends are.
“Randwyck Manor was hideous and uninhabitable; despite this, Sally knew that her mother wanted to reinvent herself as ’the lady of the Manor’. It mattered not that the place was crumbling around her ears and stinking of mouse wee, every one of its foundations and timbers corroding with damp or dry-rot, Lucinda still had the satisfaction of looking at the map and seeing it written there: ‘Randwyck Manor’. It was a place of historical significance; some minor baron had parked a mistress there back in the nineteenth century, and these things mattered.”
Pages 210-211, Chapter 14, The Best Things by Mel Giedroyc
I have loved Mel and Sue, individually or together, for twenty-odd years, and in this novel, there was everything I was hoping for, and more. There was talk of food, a lot of punning, some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, and I could hear Ms Giedroyc’s voice, clear as a bell, throughout. Delightful.
The characters were fully-formed and well-written. The dialogue was snappy and the action of the piece, very well-paced. There was some strong language, but I felt it was all justified, and overall, what I was left with was a lovely, warm cuddle of a book. A very assured debut, I’ll look forward to reading more.