Saturday, 14 September 2013

Book Review: Why Do We Have to Live With Men? - Bernadette Strachan

Synopsis - Why do we have to live with men?  As another evening with her best friends and a few bottles of wine comes to an end, Cat O'Connor is left pondering this very question.  And, escaping from a ruined love affair, she is about to find the answer.

When Cat joins a group of women in a huge, decaying farmhouse deep in the countryside, she prepares to embark on six months without men.  Cat is promised a nirvana of serenity where the chores are done without mutinous mutterings, where nourishing food simmers on the Aga and where feelings are taken seriously.  But Cat soon discovers that women are no saints either...

Review - This is a much better book than Bernadette Strachan's earlier offering How To Lose a Husband and Gain a Life.  Here we have a group of friends who all have man problems of one kind or another.  Cat was the mistress of an older married colleague, Josette is struggling with her philandering boyfriend and Mary is in a relationship with a loser who steals from her and then offers to buy her drinks with her own money.  Enter Germaine who decides to run a six month experiment where a group of women live together without men.  After some persuading the friends all go along at different intervals and they meet four other women who bring their own set of problems to the household.

Let me introduce the cast: Germaine, the leader who turns out to be living a lie in the commune.  Sarge, her second in command, an ex TA who bosses everyone around and hero worships Germaine.  Antonia, who is not the person the group believe her to be.  Lucy, a writer, the only lesbian amongst them.  Beulah, an older woman who hears about the commune and esconces herself in the kitchen in charge of the Aga and whose story is the most harrowing of them all.  Josette is the last to join the commune feeling the need to decide how to proceed in her relationship.  Mary, a full on, doesn't give a damn Irish actress finds out that she really is quite conformist after all.  And Cat finds that she does not need the high powered city career and all the trappings that go with it.

An interesting take on a social experiment and guess what?  Can they live without men?  Hmm!  If this is your kind of reading matter, find out for yourself.  3*

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