I have been forced back to bed for the day by my husband, not for the bliss of carnal delights, but because he seems to think I’m ‘going down with something’. The possibility of the domestic helm being unmanned has galvanised him into action, and armed with a thermometer he has talked me into resting up to avoided the pestilence sweeping through our Holiday guests.
The Captain was floored by bronchitis on Boxing Day, followed by eldest son keeling over with a chest infection/flu on the 28th and his girlfriend following with the flu two days later. I am not making this up. All cases have been confirmed by The Hague’s Bronovo hospital and our GP.
Harry has been closeted in his room for the past week in trying to avoid the plague – Missy flew out to Baton Rouge ahead of the major wave of sickness.
So what to do with an enforced day of bed rest?
I have on my night stand a copy of a book I should have reviewed before Christmas. It is described on the inside cover as, ‘hilarious tales of global misunderstanding’ – to be told something is funny always makes me slightly nervous and, I have to admit, wary.
I was asked to review it as, like the author, I have lived away from my home country and experienced the pitfalls of living overseas. However, the book is written by a diplomat’s wife and as the Captain will attest the words ‘diplomatic’ and ‘wife’ should never be used in the same sentence when referring to me.
I’m a little nervous about the project. How many books have you read which were described as stomach clutchingly funny only to read them and discover you’ve missed the point, or worse still, the writer has?
As far as I’m concerned there is only one book in the English language which I have ever truly thought of as funny. One I read as a teenager and have read every year or so since. I was actually given a detention by a teacher who refused to believe my uncontrollable mirth and inability to speak was due to reading this book during a study period.
It’s not a book for the faint hearted – there are parts which I struggle with, but the comedy and use of language, although from a different era and century (1889 to be exact) manages to capture the essence of human nature across time. Its humour and wit are still fresh and alive today.
I defy anyone to read the first chapter of Jerome K. Jerome‘s Three Men in a Boat and not close the book with a smile, feeling more uplifted than before. Forget the movie or TV adaptation, the humour is in the writing – the style and measured tone, the use of imagination in a time before television and film.
That’s all I ever hope for in a book – enrichment, entertainment and education. To turn the last page feeling edified as if something significant has ended. I want a book to stay in my head for days afterwards, allowing my thoughts to drift over the plot and style, to probe my initial emotional response and see if it still holds true.
These days I’m often left deflated and disappointed on reading books regarded as the latest and greatest by critics. It’s rather depressing to have spent time and emotion on a book that leaves you feeling a bit let down.
So here I am. Looking at Cherry Denman’s book in my hands and wondering… I’ll let you know how it goes.