19 Feb 2011



Sarah is besotted with the unpredictable Billy. But after another 'accident' involving his temper, Sarah's face and a night in A&E, Sarah's friends Martha and Flower decide that it's time to take action. What should they do?
  • Reason with him?
  • Send him to Anger Management Classes?
  • Hire a hitman?
Martha and Flower have issues of their own: Martha is seven-months pregnant by one of three possible blokes: and hippy Flower's career as a stand-up comic is more sit-down and weep after some nasty encounters with south London's finest hecklers. Will Martha survive single-motherhood on a council estate in need of a peace-keeping force? Will Flower find the perfect put-down? And will they sort out Billy before he gets to them first ..... ?
....... From the inner front cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (from the prologue): Martha could remember exactly when it was that she had first started hating her father.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: South-East London's hardened elite of grey-haired working-class women was in an unforgiving mood and nodded it's head as one.

Sorting Out Billy is a fairly accurate portrayal of some English communities that though recognisable has been exaggerated almost out of all proportion. An ok sort of read IF you have a certain kind of humour - which I discovered I don't - though I admit I did chuckle in one or two places and even, despite myself, laughed out loud on one occasion (the hospital ward of middle-aged women as mentioned in my memorable moment I found to be very funny.)

The fourth novel by Jo Brand who is a well known English stand-up comedienne whose 'trademark', certainly in her early career, was delivering 'jokes' about the uselessness of men, I wasn't surprised by the weak male characters but expected more from her female characters who, on the whole, were fairly stereotypical . Too full of swearing, much of it done by the female characters, for my taste, I found I couldn't relate to ... or like .... any of them and yet, in a strange kind of a way, I found myself almost attached to some of them.

As for the plot - interesting I think is the word I would use. Not especially well written and I think it was quite lazy of Brand to include a wannabe comedienne as one of the main characters, it was the relationships I found intriguing in that the three main (female) characters were the most unlikeliest of friends and yet had an extremely close bond .... most of the time. If only the same could be said of their relationships with men, all of which could  be said to be, err, less than conventional and, in most cases, abusive in one way or another.
An ex-library book read. If you like gritty female characters and don't mind lots of swearing then this may be a book you'd enjoy, if not then perhaps you ought to give it a miss - I know I won't be passing it onto any of my family/friends and certainly won't be seeking out any of the author's other books.
The 16th book read for the 100+ Reading Challenge and the 7th book for the Loving The Reviews Reading Challenge.


Suzanne Jones said...

Thanks for the review. I might have bought this if I'd come across it in a bookshop as I do like Jo Brand - but this book doesn't sound like my kind of thing at all.


Nikki-ann said...

I don't think I new Jo Brand wrote novels as well as being a comedienne. Not sure this one is for me though.

naida said...

Great review, I wonder if I'd enjoy this one though.

Jenners said...

Not sure this is my cup of tea.

Misha said...

Thanks for the review! I don't usually read books like these, but I think I might give it a try.