6 March 2014

Book Review: Diary of an Unsmug Married by Polly James

"What happens to love when life gets in the way?

Meet Molly Bennett. Married to Max and mother to two warring teenagers, she’s just ‘celebrated’ a significant birthday. According to Bridget Jones Molly is a “smug married”. So why doesn’t she feel smug?

Is it because everyone seems to be having a better time of it than her? Or is it that Max has started taking more of an interest in ‘business trips’ and less of an interest in their sex life? Molly is beginning to despair until an old school friend starts flirting with her through Facebook …"

Rating: 2.5/5

You can buy Diary of an Unsmug Married as a paperback or an eBook now.

Diary of an Unsmug Married is author Polly James' debut novel with publisher Avon. I was pleased to receive a review copy, as it sounded like something I might enjoy. I quite like realistic looks at life as a busy mum, and diary style books can appeal to me too. However, I have to be honest in my reviews, as always, and sadly this book just wasn't one for me. While there were parts I enjoyed, I wished there were far more of them rather than the politics of Molly's job which is littered all over the book. But here's why I wasn't sold on Diary of an Unsmug Married.

Molly Bennett is married to Max, mother to two teenagers and work for a local MP as a glorified secretary. She feels like she's stuck in a rut, there's no spark between her and Max anymore, her job is never dull but isn't exactly what she always dreamt of doing, and her kids are nothing but a worry. Perhaps it's just Molly - maybe everyone else is just fine pottering along in life. But when she receives a random email from an old school friend, Molly wonders how different her life could be if she made some radical choices. But is Molly willing to put her family life at risk to pursue a different kind of happiness...?

I wanted to enjoy this book. It sounded like a great premise and like something I would really enjoy reading, but alas it was not to be. Although I liked the character of Molly, I found her to be quite warm and funny as a narrator, and I cared about what she was saying in her diary too, I just found some of it utterly dull and it didn't intrigue me at all. Molly's job was the worst bit of the book without a doubt. Molly works for a local MP, answering his letters, his phonecalls and generally making sure he isn't putting his foot in it 24/7. Whilst there are a few amusing moments, the majority of it didn't interest me at all. In fact, I'd say probably as much as 75% of the book is set at the office - way too much for me, I wanted to see much more of Molly's family life and I think this is where I was disappointed.

There wasn't enough interaction in the book between Molly and Max to make me actually care about their relationship, and the fact that Molly might want to have an affair with her old school friend. I didn't care because I wasn't invested enough in them as a couple to feel anything which was disappointing. The fleeting scenes that they were together in passed by too quickly. There also wasn't a huge mention of Molly's children, so again, a lack of relationship development there too. In fact, Molly's most carefully accounted for relationships in the book were with her boss, and her colleague Greg! I realise when you're working, you do spend a large majority of time with your colleagues and not your family, but I just felt this book had the balance entirely wrong, for me anyway.

I took quite a while getting into the book, although I usually quite like a diary-style narrative in a book. I did find Molly's narration easy to read, and Polly James writes well, but I found the areas of Molly at work dragged on too long and my interest began to wane quite quickly. I was determined to stick it out, but the work part of Molly's life continues to dominate the book. The story with her online flirting didn't really interest me either, in fact it rather made me cringe because it just didn't seem to flow well and I couldn't believe Molly could be so silly as to fall for the drivel coming through her computer screen. Unfortunately, this wasn't a book for me, and that's a shame because I had high hopes for it. I was just uninterested in Molly's job, despite the odd few chuckles, and I found the book was just bogged down in it. It needed more of a balance as I enjoyed some of the scenes with Molly and Max at home, and her quite amusing musings about Max having an affair with their neighbour! As I said though, not for me, the downsides did outweigh the bad, sorry!

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