Monday, May 24, 2010

Review: “The Bad Mother’s Handbook” by Kate Long

I’ve seen the movie multiple times and liked it, so I wasn’t in a hurry to read the book.  It turns out, the book really is better than the movie.  Go figure!

The Bad Mother’s Handbook chronicles a year in the life of a three generation house hold – daughter Charlotte, mother Karen and grandmother Nan.  It examines mother/daughter relationships in many different forms; teen moms, single moms, adopted moms, birth moms, etc.  On the flipside, it shows what it means to be a daughter.  Sounds sappy, I know, but honestly, this is a good book.  It can be realistic and funny, heartbreaking and joyous.  God, I sound like a flipping Hallmark commercial! 

I think what I liked best is the characterization.  These people are deeply flawed and kind of crazy, yet I can relate to them.  (What does that say about me?)  I especially loved Charlotte and her unlikely romance with a weirdo boy at school.  He was totally the guy I would have gone for, sweet and nerdy.  Grandmother, Nan, has dementia and health issues with stress Karen to the max.  You want to get angry with Karen for losing her temper all of the time, but if you put yourself in her position, she can sympathize with her situation.

Something American readers might have trouble with is the language.  This is a contemporary British fiction written in the vernacular of the working class.  I read a lot of Brit Lit, of I didn’t find it distracting, but there are those who might.  The point of view shifts can be distracting as well.  POV changes frequently and it takes a paragraph or so before you can figure out who is speaking.  It gets easier as the book goes on, but in the beginning, it inhibited the reading flow.

Overall, I give The Bad Mother’s Handbook

Plot – 3 bookmarks
Characters – 4 ½ bookmarks
Humor – 3 bookmarks
Love Story – 3 ½ bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – It’s probably no surprise that that I can only picture the movie cast, considering I’ve seen it like five times.  Karen (Catherine Tate), Nan (Anne Reid), Charlotte (Holly Grainger), Daniel (Rob Pattinson)


  1. This sounds interesting. I've heard of the book but didn't know it was a movie (rare, usually it's the other way around). I will have to add it to my Netflix queue. I was curious as to why you have seen the movie 5 times. Then I came to those last 2 words. LOL

    Thanks for the review. I'm going to check this one out also.

  2. The movie is not released in the US. You can find it on Amazon UK. I forgot to say that there is a really sweet and funny birth scene that I just loved!