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Hens Dancing: A Novel by [Barker, Raffaella]
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Hens Dancing: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Length: 356 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British magazine columnist Barker channels a postmodern Erma Bombeck in her thinly plotted yet charming U.S. debut, a year-in-the-life story told via the journal entries of Venetia Summers, a transplanted Londoner living in the Norfolk countryside. Feisty, 35-year-old Venetia has recently shed her philandering, ex-soldier husband, Charles, "who fries cuddly animals for a living." While Charles is thriving in the pet crematorium business and reveling in his new romance with "poison dwarf" Helena, Venetia delouses her sons Felix and Giles; staggers after her hyperactive eight-month-old daughter, "The Beauty"; and tackles laundry and gardening to avoid writing copy for corporate brochures. As house and garden deteriorate around her, Venetia bewails her fading looks and dependence on her mother, seeking solace in junk food, friends, trashy clothes and Georgette Heyer romance novels. She also refuses to admit that she has a serious crush on David Lanyon, the cute carpenter who volunteers to renovate her bathroom; in exchange, she takes photos for his publicity brochure. Barker keeps things wickedly off-kilter, subjecting various characters to unforeseeable disasters and indignities: one eats a toxic mushroom, one chops off his finger and another stumbles poolside only to have a "bit of his head" gobbled up by an affectionate Labrador. Readers who share Venetia's enthusiasm for Georgette Heyer will guess where Barker's predictable tale is heading, but the newer author's caustic pen will endear her to grownups who like their women quick-witted and their fairy tales fractured.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Meet Venetia Summers, a charmingly disorganized, thirtysomething single mom who's doing her best to raise her kids and keep her sanity in a rural English cottage amidst a maelstrom of pets, plants, and wacky relatives. Told in diary format over the course of a year, this work represents literary voyeurism at its best. We share in the birth of a daughter (The Beauty) after Venetia's husband, Charles, leaves her for the dreaded Helena; the antics of Venetia's well-meaning, albeit daffy, mother; chaotic seaside holidays; and the home-improvement projects of the increasingly attractive and available David. This wonderfully entertaining and endearing book, Barker's first American publication after much success in England, will doubtless be favorably compared to Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary (LJ 5/15/98). Her characters are real, the events believable, and the author able to address some all-too-common family problems without losing the story's humor and appeal. Venetia is a woman many readers would like to have as a friend. Essential for libraries with fans of Bridget Jones.
- Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 536 KB
  • Print Length: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (August 13, 2002)
  • Publication Date: August 13, 2002
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000QCS9ZU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,688,892 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Stephens on June 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I just loved this book, I've read it at least six times since I bought it a year or so ago, and I currently have it with me, even though I am on the other side of the world from the major portion of my library. Venetia is so real and so normal, so are her children, not at all like so many of the 'made-up' people of popular fiction, and her mother reminds me so much of some of my elderly relatives. There is a hilarious sequel as well, called 'Summertime'. By the way, I don't think it's at all reminiscent of 'Bridget Jones'- Venetia is a rural rather than an urban character, she is a mother (although she's not necessarily any older than Bridget), and she's of a completely different type of background. Rafaella Barker was greatly influenced by the classic 'Diary of a Provincial Lady' (EM Delafield) in writing 'Hens Dancing', and I think she really has evoked the life of the same type of woman today.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this wonderful little book! It's a light read about a 35 year old mother of 3 children--one a baby--who has just gone through a divorce and is raising her children in a large,ramshackle house in the English countryside.Venetia is suffering from self doubt in a large measure but is actually a wonderful mother who puts her childrens interests first before fussing about a tidy house. I'd recommend this charming and amusing book to anyone but particularly to mothers of young children.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book - almost a modern day Nancy Mitford style. Warm and amusing without bitterness. Great characters. I heartily reccommend it for those looking for a light read with a precise and edgy british writing style.
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Format: Hardcover
I read both Hens Dancing and Summertime & enjoyed them immensely. I love this type of fun "women's fiction" book. The book is in diary form and follows Venetia through a year of her life as an eccentric single mother of three. The setting is small town/rural outside of London. She is an artistic type character who can't seem to ever get herself as together and organized as all the other mothers at her childrens' school. The house is never clean, the laundry is never done, her love of gardening never seems to result in a beautiful garden, and random pets & other animals are always creating havoc. It was great fun! I highly recommend this book as well as the sequel, Summertime.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book because it reasurres you that the things you think in moments of self-loathing and doubt, go on in other peoples heads too. The books title character is going through a separation, trying to raise 3 children, and take care of a country house all while dealing with visits from her former husband and his "twenty-something" girlfriend. The kind of book that you want to keep with you for when doubt starts creeping in. It also appeals to anyone who lives in the country or wishes that they did, with frequent descriptions of the animals that she acquires. A brutally honest, and fun book.
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By A Customer on August 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I adored this book and wanted it to go on forever. It was so soothing and so real. I don't think I've ever had a book have such a calming effect on me, especially since the life of the main character was quite chaotic. I suppose it was her calm, unruffled way of dealing with her life, that made me see how trivial most things are. She knew how to focus on the important things in life; her children, family, friends, and all the beauty nature has provided.(both of them!)
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By A Customer on May 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed Rafaella Barker's Hens Dancing. As a mom, I can relate to the joys and trials of raising children. She also deals with the topic of single parenthood and the struggle to balance life in an imbalanced world, and she manages to do so with a delightful sense of humor. This is Ms. Barker's first novel to be published in the States, and I sincerely hope it won't the her last.
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Format: Paperback
answer - 'chick to chick' - have to read just about the whole book before you find out that the title is from a child's riddle. Very cute book. Really really enjoyed it. She is a bit caustic. It feels much more like a nonfiction than fiction story; like being on the phone with a favorite funny friend who always has you laughing over her day-to-day life. Her struggles with her ex-husband and his wife; the cute and crazy things she or her children do - I really didn't want to put it down. And I'm looking forward to reading the sequel. I just about never like diary style books. But this is the exception to the rule.
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