The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs, by Christina Hopkinson

Mary is fed up: she feels that she's doing much more than her fair share of housework and childcare, and that her husband Joel is unappreciative and lazy. So she starts to make a list of all the things he does which annoy her. This seems an effective way of justifying her frustration, so she decides to maintain a running total of "good" and "bad" things that he does, which will accumulate over six months. If he's too much in deficit by the end of that time, she'll be vindicated and he'll have to go... or something.

I thought this might be a bit trivial and lightweight, and I expected that it would turn out that she'd end up throwing away her list and deciding to love her husband warts-and-all. But the writing was a bit above the normal chick-lit genre.

In fact the ending wasn't too far from what I expected but the way the story developed, and the mini-stories that went on, made the book quite a bit more interesting than the cover might lead you to expect.

Much of the stuff she complains about rings true - all the rubbishy dreary stuff you have to do when managing a home and job with kids who take up so much time and make so much mess; the resentment felt at a partner who you feel doesn't pull their weight; the way that mums working part-time are not treated seriously in the workplace.

There was some stuff that I think goes with the territory for this kind of book: Mary's friends worrying about biological clocks, her sister working her way through dating websites trying to get a man, and gossip about the imagined sexual habits of mutual friends.

But overall the thing was a good read, and it was well written. One bit I made a note of - when Mary talked about the way that Joel first appeared on the scene: all the girls at the office fancied him, but were distraught when he caught the attention of the most glamorous woman in the company:

'H.O.T, hot,' said Mitzi after a couple of days, and the other girls hid their disappointment that a red dot had appeared on the best painting in the gallery.

Better than I expected, and I'd read more by this author.

Completed : 28-Oct-2012

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