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

3.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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

“The New Helen Fielding.”

Company (UK)

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books; Reprint edition (March 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670023426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023424
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,549,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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: Hardcover
Usually readers relate to a story through a writers craft with dialogue. Dialogue brings the character into the here and now, allowing the reader to be a spy on the wall. Getting into the interior life of a character takes a bit of finesse with just the right amount of narrative and dialogue. Imagine a story told mostly in narrative. Sounds static. Not in the case of A Surrey State of Affairs, which is written as a series of blog entries and indeed contains very little dialogue.

A Surrey State of Affairs is Constance Hardings’ diary, so to speak. She’s a fifty-something, church-going, bell-ringing, empty-nester, wife and mother who is naïve and newly initiated into the joys of computer usage. Blogging is a newfound outlet for her and thinking nobody reads it anyway, she posts her daily observations and frustrations as she strives to be appease, support and maintain her relationships including that with her beloved parrot. Think Bridget Jones’ Diary all grown up with the quandaries of a mid-life crisis in full havoc mode, delivered with the same humorous and endearing qualities of a Bridget Jones.

We, the reader, are Constance’s invisible friend, privy to her most private thoughts and yet as good friends often do, we see realities long before she discovers them herself. But she’s naïve and we care for her. From her attempts to find a good wife for her son, who is obviously gay, to her inability to understand why she continually finds panties laying around her husband’s office, her naivety might frustrate a lesser friend, but due to Ms. Radford’s exceptional writing, so well formulated with the dry, pithy wit of a Brit, we can only stand by Constance.

We celebrate when Constance finally wakes up and embarks on a completely uncharacteristic set of behaviors.
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