A little more love for Miss Dahl

I just finished reading Playing with the Grown Ups by Sophie Dahl, and fell in love, so I felt it deserved a little review. To begin with, look at the total perfection of this cover:

I love the little details you don't notice right away, like the drinking fairy and tiny houses in the tree, and how the muted colours give it an appropriately vintage feel. I say appropriate, because the story is set in two times: the present, in which protagonist Kitty is married, pregnant and living in New York, and the past, where Kitty is a child, living in England with her Grandparents, Mother and Aunts. 

The story begins in the present, with Kitty receiving a phone call from her younger sister to say their Mother is in hospital. She immediately leaves for England, wondering aloud to her husband if introducing their unborn child to her madcap family is really a good idea. You are then transported back to Kitty's childhood, where you learn exactly why she has this apprehensive attitude to her family, and watch her grow up, leave for boarding school on account of her Mums foray into Buddhism, experience death, first love, drugs, betrayal and finally her Mothers breakdown. 

Sophie Dahl has such a fantastic way with words, and Kitty's voice throughout is just perfect. It is so enthralling, I read it all on a four hour train journey, hidden behind my sunglasses! There are parts where you wish you had been Kitty, and other parts where you feel so desperately sorry for her you want to burst into tears.  There are a few autobiographical touches (Dahl's retelling of her own story of making chocolate mousse for a boyfriend who never turned up for tea), and so many moments where you're convinced the events must be based on your own life. It is totally heartbreaking, yet somewhat of  a comfort, and while I won't give away the ending and spoil it for you all, it has the perfect balance of tying up loose ends, and letting some remain loose. 

I'm now desperate to get my hands on Sophie Dahl's first book The Man with the Dancing Eyes. I just hope it is a magical as this one!

"I think it doesn't really make a difference where she is, because she always takes herself with her." 
(Sophie Dahl - Playing with the Grown Ups)

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