May Contain Nuts, by John O'Farrell

Alice and her husband are well-off, and have a comfortable life-style, but are consumed by worries about how well their children are doing. As the secondary school entrance exam looms, Alice's friends seem confident that their kids will get on OK, but a mock exam reveals that her daughter is likely to have serious problems. So Alice and her husband hatch a plan to ensure that a place will be guaranteed...

I've previously read The Best a Man Can Get and I remember thinking that was pretty good. I must have started this one because the first part of the book was quite familiar, but I don't remember completing it.

I don't think this is as good as TBaMCG: it was quite funny in places but not really sustained enough. And the first half of the book, which concentrated on the ludicrous lengths that the middle classes go to on behalf of their children, was a bit overdone: their behaviour was too extreme to be believable, but not quite funny enough to justify the caricature.

In the latter part of the book, a more serious note creeps in as Alice is forced to confront some of her prejudices and has her value-system challenged. I liked this bit more: it seemed a bit more realistic, although the message was perhaps a bit unsubtle: you are left in no doubt where the story is going, or where your sympathies are meant to lie.

So, a good enough read, and a couple of laugh-out-louds, but not as good as TBaMCG. And it reminded me of How To Be Good, so it's off to read that next.

Completed : 22-Nov-2008

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