25 October 2010

Book Review: Why Do We Have to Live With Men? by Bernadette Strachan

Cat O'Connor didn't quite expect her life to go the way it has. She works for an advertising agency, but is having an affair with one of her married bosses, and no one else knows about it. However, when things become public at work, Cat ends up with the rough end of the stick and finds herself with a loose end. When Cat's friend Germaine decides she is going to open a women only commune, Cat is originally horrified but soon comes around to the idea. The women move out to a dilapidated old house, and start to get to know each other day by day. How are the women going to find it without men around for 6 whole months? Not only that, but Cat has to contend with a big family drama in the middle of it all. Is a house full of women just a problem waiting to happen, or will it be a better time that they all expected?!

This is the second of Bernadette Strachan's books I have read, and since I really enjoyed her previous novel How To Lose A Husband and Gain A Life, I was really hopeful for this being a good read as well. I think the cover of this book is really striking, it has had a redesign since the original cover was released, and was made brighter and all the better for it I think. It is definitely a cover which would make me look at it twice in a shop, and therefore I think will be popular with fans of the genre. It's quite a good chunk of a book, and therefore something to get your teeth into.

I have to be honest and say I did find the book was a little hard to get into for me. I don't know exactly what it was because the characters are good enough, and certainly interesting enough to keep the book moving along, but I just found I really had to force myself to pick the book up and read it rather than being desperate to pick it up every spare moment I got. The book begins with Cat happy in her job, in a relationship (of sorts) with Hugh and happy with her friends Germaine, Jozette and Mary. It took a little while to get going and get to a point where the commune becomes a reality in the book, but it did set up the back story for the need of the commune. I just found the pace of the first part of the book was a little slow, and I wasn't immediately gripped, but I kept going as I hoped it would pick up.

Luckily, I think it did. It didn't quite get to the level of enjoyment of her previous book for me, I did still find it a bit of a chore to pick up at times because I wasn't completely absorbed by the book, but it was still a good enough read to keep  me interested once I had picked it up. One little problem I had was once the group of women moved into the commune, there were a few new characters to get to know, and I often found myself forgetting which was which, and I had to flick and back and forth to keep up for a little while which was a pain. The character of Sarge was just really annoying even though she was perhaps meant to be funny, and I couldn't warm to Lucy because she felt really cold.

For me, one of the best stories of the book followed one of the women of the commune, Antonia. I don't want to give away what happens and what Antonia's issue is as it's interesting to see it become uncovered throughout the book as it progresses, but it was well handled by Strachan, and delicately done considering the subject matter as well. I also liked the exploration into Lucy's personal life which is something you don't see very often in chick lit these days, so Strachan really has tried to fill the book with a lot of relevant issues. Perhaps that is the problem I had with the book - it went from being very slow paced to being filled with a lot and it was just a little too much for me to be getting on with which was a shame. The best by far though was Beulah's tale, which had my eyes well up on occasion, it was really emotional and the highlight of the book, it was a shock when it was revealed.

However, I do have to admit that I did struggle with this book at times which was a real shame because I was really hoping I would thoroughly enjoy it as I loved her previous novel. I would still recommend it for people who enjoy Bernadette Strachan's books because it is still a good read with a well written story that moves at a good pace, and there are some good bits in it, but I just felt it hard to get into in the beginning, and then found a little too much was going on at the end. Also, for a book that is supposed to be about how we live without men, they do pop up quite a bit! Anyway, it wasn't as good as I had hoped for, but it was still a read that kept me entertained and therefore it deserves its 3 stars.

Rating: 3/5


  1. "Do we have to live with men?" That's what I've been asking myself too. Yeah, men are alright when they take out the trash and kill the bugs. If you can find a Prince Charming, that be great too! Like "Cinderella Lopez," which was just reviewed on Livin' la vida Latina.


  2. why do we live with men? easy! I need someone to pay for dinner x

  3. Why do we have to live with men?? mmm well who else would we take the PMT out on?

  4. I've been looking forward to this as I've read and enjoyed all Bernadette's previous novels, so I'll keep an open mind :)