The Sex Life of My Aunt, by Mavis Cheek

Dilys is happily married to the reliable Francis but a chance encounter with Matthew, who offers her comfort as she waits for the train to take her home after her best friend's funeral, leads to complications in her life and reflections on her past.

I've a feeling I saw good reviews of this on Amazon (I'll go back and check later) and had thought that Cheek had potential after reading Janice Gentle. But I didn't really enjoy this book.

I think Cheek is a competent writer, and there were some good observations in the start of the book about Dilys's feelings as she starts to become more and more in love with Matthew. If the story had just been about the way that Dilys coped with her affair, and the effects it had on her relationship with her husband etc., then I think that I'd have liked the book better. But this isn't how it's structured: instead, there is a lot of background and revisiting of Dilys's family history and upbringing, which felt like a bit of a distraction.

At the end of the book, the "family" aspect of the story does become relevant as it affects and explains the way that things turn out with Matthew, so I guess that this is the justification for its being there, but I just didn't find it that interesting.

Dilys was not a very sympathetic character - I didn't like her, nor Matthew, and thought they behaved badly. Although to start with there were some good descriptions of what it felt like to be falling in love, they weren't sustained for the bulk of the book and you didn't really get a sense of why they loved each other: neither person seemed very attractive. And the feelings Dilys had at the end of the relationship were noticeably less well done.

It wasn't bad enough that I gave up with it - I suppose the writing was OK, and I was interested to know what would happen - but I'm not sure I'll bother with any more Mavis Cheek.

I just went back and had a look on Amazon and the reviews their seem mixed - some give it five stars "Brilliantly wry and funny" and some one star ("pointless and disappointing"). I think I'd agree with the latter comment.

Completed : 30-Oct-2009 (audiobook)

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