Hi!! How are you?
This week has been a great week but I’m exhausted! I finally had my hair cut on Monday after 6 months since it’s last chop (hurrah and thanks Bianca!) which was a truly lovely experience, was fab to be pampered again. My other half and I have decorated the spare bedroom, built furniture and had a huge clear out ready for his move into my house, and I’ve also been at work! (Writing all of this down makes me realise why I feel so tired haha!). Today I’ve spent the afternoon with my friend shopping in a very hot and wet Hull City Centre – so my hair now looks like a complete frizz bomb and I am absolutely roasting.
Our trip to the city centre was of course not complete without a trip into our local Waterstones, which I was super excited to see had the book I’m about to chat to you about proudly on display.
THE SHELF, BY HELLY ACTON
When I saw this book, firstly I was attracted to the bright blue front cover. Anyone who’s read my blog for a while knows that I am the BIGGEST sucker for a blue front cover. I don’t know why, I can’t tell you – but I just LOVE them. When my other half brings his bookcase with him – (which is like twice the size of mine and he uses it to display things, rather than books – I know I don’t get it either) – I’m going to take great pride in colour arranging my books, and I’ll show you the disproportionate persuasion towards blue, haha!
Secondly, I read the synopsis and was like ‘I HAVE TO READ THIS!!!’ So let’s hear the synopsis shall we?
Who will be left on
So as we all know, unmarried women who are of later years are referred to as being ‘left on the shelf’ if they aren’t partnered up by about the age of 30. It’s a ridiculous out dated term that we all try to ignore, but the expression or expectation for women to be settled by the end of their third decade on earth hasn’t quite left society just yet.
Amy Wright is a 32 year old in a very one sided relationship with a self centred entrepreneur by the name of Jamie who are on very different wave lengths in terms of their relationship; she wants marriage and kids (as she feels is expected), and he’s given her a key to his place but told her to ask for permission before turning up. He calls her ‘cute’ nicknames like Piglet (wtf), fat shames her, makes her feel boring, desperate, unattractive and clingy and she feels like she walks on eggshells with him all the time. The red flags are practically on fire, but Amy is insistent that she wants to be married to this guy. Amy thinks they’re about to be going on a wonderful holiday adventure together where he is ABSOLUTELY going to propose.. but in a crazy plot twist, she finds herself dumped by him (quite literally) onto a reality tv show.
Firstly – let’s unwind a little. Anyone who’s about 30ish will have no doubt been in one of these relationships, and if you haven’t (you lucky bugger) then no doubt you’ll know someone that has. In this sense, the book is highly relatable. You want to shake Amy by the shoulders and say ‘YOU CAN DO SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS, GET RID OF HIM!!’ but sadly she is blinded by her desire to be married and have children with Jamie. Also, Amy is so many of us who are at a crossroads of decision making and at an age where we feel we ‘should’ be doing this because of biology, society, etc..
’I’m thinking I want to have it all. But I know that having it all is impossible. I want to settle down, but I also want to travel. I want children, but I also want my freedom. The truth is when I see babies, I don’t feel broody, I feel anxious. They’re like anchors. But I shouldn’t feel like that at my age, should I? how can I want a home and want to sleep in a tent on the edge of a ravine? Its like I’m two Amy’s’
Secondly – I bloody love to hate reality tv.
The reality tv show, ‘The Shelf’, is Big Brother meets Love Island, and as tragic and horrific as it is (truly car crash tv) I’m ashamed to say (am I?) that if this was a thing I would 100% watch it. The show is made up of all female contestants who have been publicly dumped, live on national television by their male partners, because for whatever reason they’re just not good enough. Or maybe they’re ‘too much’.
What makes me warm to this book so much is that there is such an amazing cast of female characters that I loved individually for different reasons. A variety of ages, demographics and personalities – all relatable in some way or other. If I could go on a big night out with them all, I know I’d have a scream. The show itself is hosted by a tv personality that all the women hate, and the show is basically a popularity contest based on public online ratings of each contestant, where the winning contestant (declared ‘The Keeper’) will win £1m.
However in order to get that far, the ladies have to complete some chauvinistic and very anti feminist challenges which seek to teach a woman to be back in the kitchen, breeding children and doing everything to keep her husband happy, at the expense of herself. The show is AWFUL.
Here however is where the 6 women (bar a character named ‘Flick’) came into their own. They rejected these challenges and refused to take them seriously. The ladies are feminist, head strong, funny, a laugh a minute and you can imagine the tv gold as Acton describes the scenes and conversations.
Included in the show for each woman are therapy sessions in the chat room, and I admit that these pulled on my heart strings – I’m sure many can relate to the topics discussed in the chat room. Some moments I was half laughing and half crying as I read.
It’s a show that is designed to make a woman conform to 1950s housewife standards, but what actually happens is a sisterhood forming between the women, and a rebellion of these expectations. The show is about finding out who the ‘Keeper’ of the bunch is, but the women discover that in fact they don’t want to be kept women. They are enough alone, they are each their own soul mate and need to live life on their terms.
I feel like this is a book I wish I could have given to myself about 7/8 years ago when I probably could have done to read it most. On a serious note many people do stick in relationships that are absolutely no good for them because they’re worried about starting again, and this book I know is half written from personal relationship experiences of the author. It’s a message to women (and men) everywhere that a break up can be the best thing that happens to you, it can be totally freeing, liberating and a chance to do everyone you wanted to, if you make it that way.
CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 5/5
6 I give it a 6! This is my absolute favourite fiction of 2020 so far. It’s lighthearted and fun, but with serious sentiments and messages behind them. If I could afford to buy a copy for all of my friends and family, I would. It’s so empowering. It teaches you as a reader to accept your version of happy and be true to it, don’t change or alter it for someone else.
The ending is a bunch of ladies, who, upon entering the show broken, leave whole, determined, with new friends and a new lease of life. They remember who they are and rediscover themselves again. It’s the first novel I’ve ever read with a reality tv show concept and it works so well. Lovers of Beth O’Leary, Lindsey Kelk and Lucy Diamond will 100% adore this book. Go buy it already!
Finally I would just like to say that having briefly chatted with this author, she’s truly lovely so please show her your support. She’s also got a second book in the works, ‘The Couple’ , which I can’t wait to read!
Thank you for the fabulous people at Bonnier Books and Netgalley for my gifted copy in exchange for an unbiased review.
Where to buy:
Waterstones: £10.99 (on offer)
WASHED DOWN WITH:
So I don’t know what to tell you about this Beanies Birthday Cake. I think I love it, but I’m not sure. The first time I tried it I was a bit disappointed because it tasted so artificial, too sweet and strawberry coffee is a bit weird. But I’ve discovered that personally for me, I’m better with a tiny dash of milk and drinking this one nearly black, and definitely not to have anything sweet with it! If you want to try this instant coffee yourself, then head over to Beanies where you can pick up a jar for £2.50.
Thats is for this week folks! I’m going to take a nap and then head back into Girl Woman Other (which seems to be taking an age).
Hopefully I’ll have finished it by next week and have a review to share with you, until then you can find me daily at @papyrusandpeppermint on instagram, and on Facebook.
Until the next chapter,