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The Changing Room: A British Comedy of Love, Loss and Laughter Kindle Edition
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"..a hilarious, sad, compassionate and fist pumping book that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was entertainment and more." NetGalley
"A beautiful, well-written story about real life people with their real-world troubles. The book has a 'personality' of its own, and this from a very voracious reader." Goodreads
From the Author
For many years I've been a member of a ladies' book club. We're all middle-aged with one or more aspects of our lives in common: teenagers or young adult children, jobs varying in pressures and fulfilment, husbands facing redundancy or career changes, and increasing responsibilities for our parents. At the same time, we're also facing the joint onslaughts of the loss of youth and age-related health problems. We're a strong, supportive group with individual and yet universal problems that unite us beyond our mutual love of books. Our meetings are filled with lively, vocal discussions that sometimes go on until the early hours of the morning on just about any topic.
Except the books that brought us together in the first place.
It's not that we never discuss our chosen books; it's just that we so rarely discover a book that all of us have read and enjoyed to the very end that it warrants discussing it for any length of time. And forcing ourselves to read a novel to impress or to satisfy some quasi-intellectual need isn't necessary: We know each other too well. So, by the time we've got past the excuses: "I was too exhausted to read it," (any lengthy literary novel); "It was too depressing," (any novel featuring a child killer); "It was so predictable I watched a rerun of The Professionals instead," (any book with "teashop" in the title); and "How did this get on the Man Booker shortlist? My navel fluff is more interesting," usually we're left with very few books that meet all our expectations.
Now I don't want to make my friends sound uneducated or overly fussy because they're neither. We have occasionally talked at length about some great books: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, The Help and so on. But what these particular books have in common, despite their literary statuses, is that they're easy to pick up and put down but are still absorbing enough to be entertaining and informative.
There is, of course, a lot of "women's fiction" that is worthy of discussion which never grabs the headlines like the more literary novels. Anything by Jodi Picoult ticks that box, as would undercover successes like The Memory Book or Me Before You. These are the type of books that many women enjoy. They're books which don't require a degree or in-depth analysis to appreciate. They're emotive, engaging and frequently explore situations or moral dilemmas that create food for thought and conversation. To women with busy, exhausting lives these easy-to-read but captivating books are a gift because, after a harrowing day, not many of us want to face the challenges of Hilary Mantel or David Mitchell.
It was with these thoughts that I set about writing The Changing Room. But I also wanted to factor in one further element and write not just an easy-to-read and thought-provoking novel that would be appreciated by the ladies of my book club, but a humorous one. It would have an older heroine that readers would empathise with but who also did things they've wanted to do but haven't quite had the courage or opportunity. A woman who would make them laugh and cry and, hopefully, inspire them.
I'm not sure why there is so little meaningful comedy fiction available for older women, but certainly finding any agent or publisher actively looking for any humorous writing that isn't a Christmas coffee table book, chick lit or dry literary humour is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Nevertheless, I was determined that it shouldn't just be girls or academics who have fun in literature, but mature women too.
And so I created 45-year-old Sandy Lovett: mother, wife, carer and sex-chat expert. A resilient woman with a sense of humour and a strong moral, social and political conscience who was changing direction in her life. A woman, I hoped, whose character and story would appeal to the ladies of my book club long enough to make it through several bottles of wine and a selection of exotic nuts.
Only time will tell if I have succeeded in my mission. But whatever the reception for Sandy Lovett, I will always hold the same affection for her as I do my book club ladies. All of them ordinary women, just like you and me, living their own extraordinary lives.
- ASIN : B0160Q1YFC
- Publisher : Sweet and Salty Books (September 30, 2015)
- Publication date : September 30, 2015
- Language : English
- File size : 3073 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 374 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,310,927 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I was positively surprised because the novel was more substantial than I expected (if you read Jane Turley's blog, I think you'll see what I mean). For me the story was that of a modern fairy tale: The characters are neatly divided into heroes and villains, the transformation of the heroine from an "ugly duckling" into a beautiful and successful career woman, the relationships within the family – these are all a bit too good to be true.
So if you need some light reading to forget about life for a while, this is the ideal read. It's a captivating story that is never boring. You keep wanting to know what will happen next.
One thing that I didn't like too much was the ending. It was a little over the top for me, and spoiled my overall impression of the novel somewhat. The weight-loss storyline was also a bit too prominent for me and I didn't like the message that you have to be necessarily slim to succeed in life. (I also don't like the stories where the really fat girl finds Mr. Universe and he loves her "just as she is"; maybe I'm just hard to please.)
All in all, it's good entertainment, especially for middle-aged women who can probably relate the most. If you generally like chick-lit, you should check this out – although it is not about finding Mr. Right but more about finding your own perfect self.
Turley shows a depth of empathy and insight into the complex pressures that many women experience in the 'sandwich years' (Sandy, the main character, is juggling the needs of children and young adults, whilst caring for her ageing mother). The depiction of a loved family member slipping into dementia is handled with sensitivity. Its hard not to feel empathy for the protagonist, as she deals with an unfulfilled career, laments the loss of youth, juggles the demands of her family, and carves out time to maintain her relationship with her husband. To lighten this load, Turley uses her comedic skills well.
What I struggled with: I didn't find the career changes believable. In particular, the description of Sandy as a sex-worker, alongside a collection of other mothers, sounded as if they were just having a lark in their Club; as opposed to the realities faced by women in that line of work. A reoccuring theme that didn't appeal to me was Sandy's obsession with dress size and her appearance. Although I do applaud the focus on becoming healthier.
These are are only small issues I have, all of which are easily forgotten, as Turley is a competent writer of contemporary stories. The pace is fast, and the writing style is competent for an emerging writer. The Changing Room is a fine blend of pathos and the comedic. It may have you thinking differently about ordinary people, living ordinary lives.
The bittersweet way the main character handled the sad events of her life mixed with the comedy, made this an interesting and entertaining book.
Top reviews from other countries
There are odd scenes that the pedant (grumpy middle-aged woman?) in me questioned (for example, Master Pooey: a random comic scene that didn’t do much for the story – I’m sure I remember it from an ancient TV ad, which was probably why it stood out) and I was a bit disappointed by the ending. From Sandy being convinced to run for election to the done-and-dusted finish was a glossed-over whirlwind, at odds with the pace of the novel in general.
However, so much more made up for it: Sandy’s alternative career, her relationship with her mother, life with work colleagues… I could go on. Overall, a very enjoyable read, ‘easy’ but thought-provoking and sensitive. I will definitely look out for Jane Turley in future.