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A Surrey State of Affairs: A Novel Hardcover – March 29, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books; Reprint edition (March 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780670023424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023424
  • ASIN: 0670023426
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 5.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,638,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Wonderfully amusing. A comic gem.”
Alexander McCall Smith


“Warning: unintended snorts of laughter may occur in public places. Comic satire erupts when modern mores and reality TV invade the comfortable confines of Constance Harding’s cozy upper crust world.  I loved every dizzy, delightful page.”
Helen Simonson, bestselling author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand


“Wildly entertaining and amusing.”
—Publishers Weekly



"Radford’s alternate persona as a middle-aged housewife was clearly successful in her earlier blog and remains as witty and outrageous in her first novel."
Library Journal

“Ceri Radford has perfectly rendered the inner monologue of a clueless but loveable Everywoman.  Comforting, witty, poignant, and delicious.”
Beth Harbison, New York Times bestselling author of Thin Rich Pretty


“With a heroine as sweet and naive as Constance, there is bound to be trouble. And there is. Hugely enjoyable, this is an unusual and sparkling debut...The Diary of an English Provincial Lady de nos jours.”
Elizabeth Buchan, author of Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman


“The endearingly clueless Constance Harding brings all of her generous good intentions to bear on solving the problems of those around her. What results are the hilarious misadventures of a hopelessly well-bred Englishwoman, an insightful commentary on our times, and a wonderfully messy tale of friendship, parenthood and love.”
Juliette Fay, author of Deep Down True

About the Author

Ceri Radford is a journalist at the Telegraph Media Group. She lives in London and has been called the "new Helen Fielding" (Company). A Surrey State of Affairs is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on April 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
At 53, Constance Harding is embarking on a foray into the Internet world. Armed with a new laptop, she has created her own blog with the assistance of her son, Rupert. Beginning on January 1st and continuing through the last day of the year, readers are privy to Constance's innermost thoughts and outward experiences in Surrey, England, as she makes her way through 2008.

Although she doesn't know it yet, 2008 is going to be a year of change. Up to this point, she has contented herself with her marriage to Jeffrey, a senior partner at a law firm, and her grown children: Rupert, an IT consultant, and Sophie, a student on her gap year before heading to university. The part of Constance's time that isn't taken up with her family is filled with her participation in the bell-ringing group at her local church and caring for her beloved parrot, Darcy.

While Constance's life and home may look picture perfect to outsiders, she, too, has her crosses to bear. The romance has disappeared from her marriage; Rupert refuses to marry and produce the requisite grandchildren that Constance so desperately desires; and Sophie, who always has had a wayward, unorthodox personality that the traditional Constance has never understood, continues to pursue her own interests. Add to that the need to hire a new gardener and her inability to manage her insolent Lithuanian housekeeper, and it's easy to see that Constance doesn't have it easy.

Over the year, Constance is able to communicate via her blog in a way that she's unable to do in person with any of the people in her life. What is particularly amusing is Constance's inability to recognize the obvious flaws in her family members, either through her willing blindness or perhaps due to a natural naiveté.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Redfern on April 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Being a sucker for anything BritLit, I enjoyed this book. Constance Harding decides to start writing a blog on the "new" laptop her husband gave her for the holidays. Right off the bat the reader realizes that poor Constance is pretty much clueless about her life and family. An example; the computer has an inventory sticker on it from her husband's law firm and she attributes that to his affixing it on the laptop in a show of "corporate loyalty".
It soon becomes obvious that Constance's life is not the wonderful world she blog's about. Her son is a confirmed bachelor who remains as incommunicado as he possibly can. Her husband Jeffrey seems to always be in a funny mood. Her sullen and slovenly maid, Natalia, leaves her underwear to dry in Jeffrey's office. Last but not least, her daughter Sophie is a total brat who is going off the France, supposedly to study some sort of environmental issues. Constance writes about all of their quirks at full face value.
I really loved reading the little vignettes of Constance's life and her observations on the lives of her neighbors. I kept picturing Hyacinth Bucket as I read all of the little nuances of situations that Constance had no idea were in front of her and wrote about in her blog. I could just see readers of the blog saying Oh My God! What was she thinking!
The interesting thing is that Constance ends up fooling us all in the end. There is more to her than meets the eye and Ms. Radford did a good job of lulling us into thinking the Constance was a one dimensional character and then Bang! Not so much.
There were some parts that were a little draggy but overall this is a fun first book by this author.
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Format: Paperback
Constance Harding is a rather ordinary, proper Englishwoman of Surrey. On January 1, 2008, she started a blog. Her primary concerns: Why the Lithuanian housekeeper couldn't keep her skimpy underwear properly stowed away rather than strewn about the house; finding a suitable girl for her son in his mid-twenties, seeing as he has not done so himself; wondering why her daughter must dress drastically and behave so improperly.

The blog runs precisely one year, and it chronicles the most eventful year Constance (don't call her "Connie"!) has ever experienced. At the beginning, she is reminiscent of Hyacinth Bucket ("Bouquet"!) of the British comedy Keeping Up Appearances. Constance is quite formal and dependent on routine. As an outsider looking in, it's easy to see the hints about what's really going on behind her back, and that she's quite oblivious. Or maybe that she's so comfortable with life that these things just aren't on her radar.

But never fear-Constance starts opening her eyes, after her proper British manner. Naivety only gets one so far in life, and this is the point at which it ends in her life. This tumultuous year in the life of a middle-aged woman is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes maddening, and always...Constance. There's a lot of sweetness to her character, and it's hard not to like her. Some readers might find the pacing uneven or slow at times, but this is in a blog style, and blogs rarely have even pacing. Even though this is a fictional blog, I give it slack on the pacing count for that reason.

If you love British comedy, especially Keeping Up Appearances, and if you like journal and blog style, then you'll enjoy this sweet telling of an eye-opening year.

*****
The reviewer received a free copy of this novel from the publisher. This has no impact on the quality or consideration of the review. Wantz Upon a Time has not and will not accept money in exchange for reviews.
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