The winner of the Alan Titchmarsh 'People's Author' national competition tells of the travails of family life with wit and warmth. 'I gaze down and see your garden, the gate hanging off its hinges, the mess, your children running around half naked like little street urchins.
It spoils the view entirely' When single mother Nicola Hodgkinson decided to follow her rural dream, it involved transporting her young family - three rowdy children, her beloved horse, a wilful donkey and two single-minded bantams - to a ramshackle cottage in an idyllic seaside village.
The family soon attracts the horrified attention of nosey neighbours, and annoys motorists by hogging country lanes with a horse-drawn caravan.
But amid the chaos, the magic of family life shines through, peppered with humour, love, moments of high drama, and nostalgia. LIFE WITH THE LID OFF is a brilliant, profound and funny evocation of a universal theme: how to find yourself again amongst the hurly burly of family life.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 288 pages
- Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
- Publication Date: 28/10/2010
- Category: Memoirs
- ISBN: 9781409120025
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Review by TheoClarke
Warm, funny, account of the life of a single mother as an incomer to Dunwich. There is an endearing openess to the stories; in places it is so open that I wondered how the subjects of some stories felt about being laid bare to public gaze. I would hope that the affection with which the characters are drawn is enough to allay any distress, however. Although the characters are clearly distinguished, the same cannot be said of the landscapes. Were it not for explicit references to a few placenames, this could be set in almost any English coastal village and there is no significant change of flavour when the action moves between Suffolk and Devon. The account loses its direction about two thirds through but recovers its sense of narrative after a medley of anecdotes. Overall, however, the sympathetic portrayal of the many characters, the author's assured self-deprecation, and the gentle wit that flows throughout, overcome any shortcomings of this life-affirming book.