Book Review: You had me at hello by Mhairi McFarlane

A book review of You had me at hello by Mhairi McFarlane

You had me at hello

Yesterday after visiting the doctors, with the thought of a whole afternoon and evening free to myself whilst Jody was out sledging with her cousin, I decided to nip into Asda and have a mooch around the book aisle. I wanted to curl up in the living room for the afternoon with a cup of tea and something good to read.
Although I normally gravitate towards memoirs or wartime fiction, I headed towards this book straight away. I kept picking up other books while this was in my hand, and put them back every time. For a while it was a tough choice between this and Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth, but something told me to go with my instinct and read this book instead, and I'm glad I trusted it!
I got home at 4pm, kicked off my shoes, put the kettle on and sat down with the book and a Belgian bun - which ended up being much needed sustenance in the end, as I didn't stop reading until 10:39. Yep, 6 hours and 39 minutes later, I had migrated to my bed and was still eagerly turning the pages while Jody was trying to get to sleep. The only reason I put it down was because Jody was blathering on about turning the light off. I even woke up early this morning so that I could catch an extra 45 minutes reading time before getting ready for work!

Let me tell you, this book is a must read. The story line centres around Rachel and Ben, who met while studying English at Manchester University. It follows Rachel throughout the twists and turns of adult life, and explores the many feelings that come rushing back when she bumps into a married Ben, ten years later. Packed with wit and humour, each situation that Rachel is put in had me chuckling away- annoying colleagues, social faux pas- all mixed with one liners and the occasional awkward moment. Far from being the 'heroine' of the book, Rachel seems to be completely relatable to someone like me- she has flaws, and makes wrong decisions- but that's what makes her all the more real.
Mhairi McFarlane is a true gem of an author. Each page had me nodding furiously along, rolling my eyes, cracking a smile and even shedding a little tear; sometimes even a mixture of all four. McFarlane expertly changes the mood of an entire page with a simple poignant phrase that takes you from stifling a giggle to wiping tears from your eyes in 0.2 seconds; no mean feat I'll have you know. Her ability to convey the many faces and depths of human feeling just through the written word is so impressive to me. The way that empathy is evoked page after page- it's like a roller coaster of emotions.
This book is so much more than 'Chick-Lit'. It's independence, it's learning to stand on your own two feet, it's blossoming from a child to a woman, it's finding the courage to break out against settling for less than you deserve, it's irrevocable love and the all consuming heart ache it can bring. It's about every day life continuing around you when you just want the world to stop so you can get off. It's so real life you could forget that it actually isn't your own life (or maybe I just get really attached to fictional characters?) Speaking of characters, the ones in 'You had me at hello' stay so consistent throughout, I felt like they were my friends. There's at least one person in this book that will remind you of someone you know in real life!

I'm so upset to have finished the book, I can't explain how sad I am! I wish the book was never ending! That's how I judge a good book apart from others- how much it calls to me to read it when I should be doing other things, and how sad I am when I finish! I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone- it doesn't matter if it's not normally your cup of tea. I'm sure you'll love it!

I've also been talking to/harassing the author on twitter (@mhairimcf) and she's super nice. She's told me 'You had me at hello' may soon be turned into a film- you'll have to read the book before it does so that you can compare the two when you go see it!

Now that I'm lonely and pining for another alternate world to bury my head in, please feel free to suggest some good books for me to read, or if you've read this book, let me know your thoughts!


Positive body image

Obtaining a positive body image

I do not have a positive body image. My thighs rub together- there, I said it. My 'thunder thighs', my 'chunky monkeys', my 'tree trunks'- they touch when I walk. I don't have an enviable gap in my legs that you could fit a bus through, but I do have a great big hole in my favourite jeans where the fabric has worn through. Annoyingly, this is the second pair of the same jeans that it's happened to in about five months. The sensible part of me said, “send them a picture! Write a complaint!” but the self conscious part of me shrunk away, thinking, “what if whoever reads it sends it to everyone in the office, and they all sit there nibbling their salad leaves laughing at the poor fat girl whose massive legs have worn holes in not one, but two pairs of jeans?” My finger hovered over the send button, pondering over what meant more to me- my pride and dignity, or the chance of a £10 voucher. Naturally, the chance of a freebie won, but I still felt completely embarrassed.
I've been 'plump' since I was about five years old, so I've had my whole life to get used to the teasing, the name calling and the feeling of insufficiency that comes hand in hand with being overweight. I've also always had big legs, and always had a complex about them. On holidays I wrapped up in sarongs and long t-shirts, staring jealously at the girls in skimpy bikinis with their long, bronzed limbs. In swimming classes I tiptoed to the edge of the pool before dive bombing in, throwing the towel mid-jump, hoping no one would see me in my ancient cossie. I've spent my life hiding my body, ashamed of it's lumps and bumps, wishing I could be like the popular girls, the models that graced the covers of magazines, and the actresses I adored. The message is all around- you'll be more successful in life the slimmer and prettier you are. For a swarthy, overweight, uni-browed adolescent that's hard to take in. I've wasted a lot of time and energy hating parts of myself because society made me feel like I should. I felt like I should be more concerned about preventing cellulite, or how to lose a stone in two weeks, or what to wear to bag myself a love interest. I, like many other young and impressionable people, have spent time formulating ways of becoming someone I am not to feel I could would be worthy of love and attention. My self esteem has been at rock bottom from constantly comparing myself to other people, and continued to be for a long time.
I know there are plenty of other women out there just like me, who share the same insecurities- the women who still can't let their other half see them in the buff without covering up their wobbly bits, the women who feel self conscious or second best in a room amongst other women; all because of the media's perception of beauty that is in our face everywhere we turn.
Some people are naturally slim, whilst some people are naturally overweight- not just because they like cakes, but because of underlying medical problems such as hormonal imbalances. Some people are perfectly happy with their bodies whatever shape they may be, whilst some people are constantly trying to lose a few pounds. I used to be one of the latter. Then I got a grip and threw the proverbial two fingers up at anyone who tried to make me feel inferior for being me. I suggest anyone else feeling embarrassed or ashamed of their bodies does the same.

Making Routines Work for You

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I forgot to add this post last week. It's the new article I wrote for BitchBuzz:

Beady eyed readers may notice my blog has had a little facelift. Once again I asked Gillian from Elevator Musik to design my new layout and once again she has surpassed herself! I love my new blog design! I would really recommend her to anyone looking for a freshen up or complete blog overhaul. She seemed to read my mind- it may help that I was a bit more specific this time about what I wanted but it looks just as I pictured it. Again, she was super easy to contact and had no problems going in and changing little things I was picky about. I don't think she is taking on many new customers at the moment due to uni work, but if you are happy to wait til she has more spare time then contact her and see if she can help you :)

Signs and Symptoms of a mid life crisis

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I think, at the grand old age of 23, I am having a mid life crisis. I just feel so completely and utterly disappointed with life. This is not what I imagined being a 'grown up' would be like!

I like my job, and I have a great relationship as well as great parents, so technically I don't have a leg to stand on. I just feel so down that this is all life will ever be for me. I'm a great believer in making your own fate, and in the past year I've completely changed career paths so I'm a lot happier in my job, but it's just the situation of work that gets me down. I know I risk sounding like a spoilt brat but it's so disheartening that we're all stuck in this cycle of work, eat, sleep (unless you're very privileged and lucky enough not to have to do so.) I find it very hard to get that work/life balance as I need to work long hours to be able to get as much money as possible to cover my bills, which leaves me with hardly any time to spend with loved ones and unwind. And when I do get time in the evenings, I spend it watching dreary TV until bedtime because a) Jody doesn't really do much else as she prefers spending her evenings chilling out, and b) it's the only time I get to spend with Jody so I'd rather be watching crap soaps with her than upstairs reading alone. Plus I have neither the money nor the friends to go out and do anything else. And when I do make plans, I feel too anxious to follow through with them and end up cancelling in panic.
Having had a full time job since I was 16, and my own house since I was 17, I've never had that period of youth where you just go out and experience things without worrying about responsibilities. I've never gone to University, or gone travelling, or gone out every weekend with my friends, or had the luxury of spending an entire wage packet on one frivolous item. I feel like I wanted to grow up too fast, and now that I am grown up, I spend all my time wishing that I could be a kid again.
But I'm only getting older, and the chance for me to have a second youth is getting slimmer and slimmer by the day. This is it, and this is likely all it's ever going to be. Work until you're too old to work any more and you're too old or ill to enjoy the time to yourself. Then you're gone! The stark realisation of 'the circle of life' is, quite frankly, shit.


Easy ways to save money in January

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January is so glum, and boring, and I feel miserable that all the festive decorations are coming down. I don't know about you, but I'm also strapped for cash this month from too much celebrating!
Here's my latest BitchBuzz article about how to save money in January:

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