Book Review: Are We Having Fun Yet? by Lucy Mangan

Today, I’m reviewing Are We Having Fun Yet? By Lucy Mangan. I’ll expand on my reasons below but, to get right to it, I LOVED this book!

The Book:

From the Goodreads blurb:

Meet Liz: all she wants is some peace and quiet so she can read a book with her cat Henry, love of her life, by her side. But trampling all over this dream is a group of wild things also known as Liz’s family. Namely:

Richard – a man, a husband, no serious rival to Henry.
Thomas – their sensitive seven year old son, for whom life is a bed of pain already.
Evie – five year old acrobat, gangster, anarchist, daughter.

And as if her family’s demands (Where are the door keys? Are we made of plastic? Do ‘ghost poos’ really count?) weren’t enough, Liz must also contend with the madness of parents, friends, bosses, and at least one hovering nemesis. Are We Having Fun Yet? is a year with one woman as she faces all the storms of modern life (babysitters, death, threadworms) on her epic quest for that holy grail: a moment to herself.

The Author:

Also nicked from Goodreads:

Lucy Mangan (born 1974) is a British journalist and author. She is a columnist, features writer and TV critic for The Guardian. Her writing style is both feminist and humorous.

Mangan grew up in Catford, south east London, but both her parents were originally from Lancashire. She studied English at Cambridge University and trained to be a solicitor. After qualifying as a solicitor, she began to work instead in a bookshop and then, in 2003, found a work experience placement at The Guardian.

She continues to work at The Guardian writing a regular column and TV reviews plus occasional features. Her book My Family and other Disasters (2009) is a collection of her newspaper columns. She has also written books about her childhood and her wedding.

Mangan also has a regular column for Stylist magazine and has been a judge for the Booktrust Roald Dahl Funny Prize

The Review:

Sometimes, a book just clicks with you, and so it was for me and Are We Having Fun Yet? The book not only reflects a life not to dissimilar to my own but was written with a sense of humour that resonated with me.

Liz is an introvert, much preferring a quiet life and a book to the alternative, and is trying to raise her children as best she can, “assisted” in this endeavour by her husband, Richard. Though my children are younger, and my husband is not *quite* as ineffective in his role as joint-runner-of-the-household, I related a LOT to Liz. As a side point, it took looking on Goodreads to check her name, as the story is told through Liz’s diary entries over the course of the year, and I couldn’t recall her name being mentioned; it may not have been.

There were three separate occasions where, between giggles, I read out an extract to my husband because Richard was doing or saying something that was almost EXACTLY something he had done in recent memory. There were so many times where I was either nodding in agreement or thinking “thank god its not just me”.

The use of the diary format allows us to gain insight into the otherwise non-confrontational Liz’s inner frustrations and commentary. There is a lot in here about the much discussed (at least amongst my mum friends) “mental load” and it is clear that Liz is carrying it here. Who hasn’t internally raged at the use of the word “we” in your partners queries about jobs that still haven’t been done?

This is a hilarious yet insightful book, picking up on the intricacies of modern motherhood and marriage. I’ve already recommended this book to my mum friends and will continue to do so. I think it is one that I’ll re-read again in the future, it was almost comforting in a way, to feel such solidarity with a character.

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