Book No 8 (2014) : Oh dear Silvia

silviaSilvia Shute is in a coma following a fall from a balcony. She is being cared for in hospital by a compassionate nurse (Winnie) and is visited in turn by her husband, daughter, sister, best friend and cleaner! In an attempt to encourage Silvia to regain consciousness, her visitors talk to her, trying to unlock her becalmed mind. It is through their one-sided conversations with the silent Mrs Shute, that the plot is revealed. Each visitor to Suite 5 has a unique and distinct voice, some of which are strongly reminiscent of Dawn French, comedienne. The individual revelations of Silvia’s companions gradually weave together into something altogether much darker than the quirky accents and idiosyncrasies initially suggest. It’s a carefully crafted book, surprising in its complexity.

The reviewers of this book describe it as ‘utterly hilarious’, ‘darkly humorous’ etc. Whilst it undoubtedly made me laugh, the sub-texts of tangled relationships, betrayal, hurt and confusion, made me feel uneasy about laughing at all.

Incidentally, I am not a big fan of audiobooks myself, but I think this is one which would work well, especially with Dawn herself reading some of the parts. Maybe a long-car-journey gift?

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