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10 April 2006

Other People’s Marriages

I hope you won't find it terribly self-indulgent if I review the books I read on this blog. I've often thought about keeping a book diary and this seems as good a place to do it as any - a sort of chronicle of my life in books (bad as well as good), albeit started a bit late.

In fact, now I think about it, how marvellous it would be to be able to look back through a list kept since childhood. Maybe I should force the Minx to start one now? 'Dear Diary, Today I read Miss Polly Had a Dolly 853 times, interspersed with the odd perusal of Knock Knock, Mr Croc (which is totally fab by the way) and the occasional run through of Baby Touch Rhyme Book complete with actions'.

But I digress. I was pleasantly surprised by Other People's Marriages. It was one of the books that you pick up in haste in order to qualify for Waterstone's 3-for-2 offer after you've been browsing for far too long and your baby is protesting grumpily in her buggy.

I don't think I read chick-lit, but I suspect this book comes very close (the front cover certainly seems to think so). In fact I'd liken it most to the literary equivalent of Cold Feet - exceptionally easy-to-read, amusing and often unnervingly observant about the state of modern marriage.

The premise is a simple one. Anna is writing what could be her breakthrough non-fiction bestseller about marriage and is using her group of somewhat clich├ęd thirtysomething (now that was a fab TV programme) friends as case studies. (A propos, am I the only person in the world who doesn't hang out in a group of three or four married couples who've all known each other for ever and don't have any other friends?) Cue lots of introspection and dissatisfaction about the various marriages being dissected, and speculation about perfect Anna's own relationship. As you would expect, each marriage unravels and then re-ravels in different ways, insights are gained, and perfect Anna's relationship falls apart. Once I'd sorted out the various couples in my head, I ripped through the book, wincing occasionally when it got a little too close to the bone of my own marriage, and seeing all sorts of parallels between the marriages of the protagonists and those of my friends (and no, I'm not telling).

Unfortunately I didn't like the ending much. Having successfully demonstrated that every marriage has its secrets and that marriage is by no means all its cracked up to be, Watson resolves all the various problems rather too tritely and finishes off with a wedding. But I suppose that's the genre. Don't buy this book expecting great literature, but if you're looking for a surprisingly well-written, easy-to-read book to read by a swimming-pool this summer then this book should suit very well.


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I used to adore thirtysomething, though have to admit that when I rewatched it about five years ago it all seemed insufferably twee. Can you ever remember Hope or Nancy ever shouting at a child? Do let us know if the life of a suburban Seattle mom turns out to be anything like this...

Never mid the group of married couples who have know each other forever, etc etc - where were all the attractive singleton friends who invariably turned up to enliven bath time? As soon as I had children, all my Melissas, Garys and Ellens mysteriously disappeared...


I like reading book reviews by 'real' people ore than ones by critics so keep on bringing it on Paola. I continue to be in awa that you manage a business, a marraige, a baby, a blog AND you have time to read books and actually absorb them! I think I should have a blog free day every week where I read a book instead (or have a life!)

L, I didn't know you'd rewatched 'thirtysomething'. I'm desperate to acquire it on DVD. The only problem is that for some reason the DVD has not yet been produced, despite a vocal online campaign.

Cally, normally I read about three pages every night before crashing out in an exhausted stupor - in fact I can't go to sleep without reading something to turn off my brain - so this is only going to be a VERY occasional series...

Oh, I loved thirtysomething. Even though I have no idea what the whole baby thing is like, I was utterly addicted.

I get the feeling that the cast were quite bonded, too - they sometimes reappear together. Interesting that Ken Olin directed several episodes of the West Wing, Timothy Busfield had a recurring role (and was really good in it), and Mel Harris appeared as a Democratic Senator too. (And the same guy wrote the music, but now I'm getting really spoddy.) claims to have them on DVD. They must be video copies, but if you're desperate...

Sorry P, I only had a couple of episodes on video, and they went mouldy at the back of a cupboard. :-)

D, wasn't Nancy married to Michael in real life? Or was Hope married to Elliot? I always fancied Gary and wanted to be Melissa...


Yes! Patricia Wettig (Nancy) married Ken Olin (Michael) in 1982, and they're still married. Rather impressive for Hollywood...

(I wish there was a career to be made in film/tv/theatre trivia. I think it's my true calling... I'm really very shallow.)


Funny how this has turned into a 'thirtysomething' blog entry.

D, do you think those tvdvdplanet copies might be OK? The real thing definitely hasn't been released yet, so they must be bootlegs and do seem rather expensive. But I'd love to see it again.

Oh and you could always write a film/tv/theatre trivia blog....


"Funny how this has turned into a 'thirtysomething' blog entry."

Possibly because the book sounds beyond dreadful... :-D

Of course, there are other TV programmes we could discuss, in a great deal of depth, if you prefer...


"Funny how this has turned into a 'thirtysomething' blog entry."

Possibly because the book sounds beyond dreadful... :-D

Of course, there are other TV programmes we could discuss, in a great deal of depth, if you prefer...


Your comment wasn't that good you know. Book is really not that bad either.

Re the DVDs - the site does offer a 30 day unconditional money-back gurantee, and even if they are video/TV copies, the quality will be OK. I've had 'Asian' DVDs before (my stepson went to China, ahem...) and they were usually fine - video quality on DVD disc. These might be similar. Certainly better than not seeing the programme!

May well stump up the cash for the DVDs. I've been reading online that apparently the problem with getting an official release is to do with securing the music right for the sound track from all the many artists and record companies involved.

Please, do not buy anything from I did and know I'm in big problems with the tull here in Europe. They are selling fakes! It is unlegal.

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