Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading Mud & Marriage by Mandy Clark
Mud and Marriage by Mandy Clark
3 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s Review Team
This book appealed to me because the blurb said it’s about a self-build, with all its ups and downs, and I used to love watching programmes like Grand Designs.
Although Mandy Clark writes well, I had a furrowed brow throughout this; my problem was that I couldn’t work out if it was meant to be a lighthearted domestic memoir or a factual book for use by other self-builders. The first 10% of the book is taken up with Mandy’s own domestic situation: the problems of being a stepmother (very honest and relatable!), a detailed account of her wedding day and a fair amount of information about the people in the village where she and her husband live. The parts about the gentleman with Alzheimer’s were both amusing and touching throughout; a big ‘bravo’ for that. Next, we moved on to Mandy’s IVF and art work. Amongst this is some detail about their housing problems, and getting planning permission to build a house on a piece of village land.
The build started in earnest when the bottom of my screen said about 30%. Here my confusion grew: the book contains too much domestic and often quite personal detail for someone buying it for the purpose of comparison with their own self-build experience (or to get tips), but too much building information for a domestic style memoir. I’d looked forward to reading about the building of the house; much of it was to-do lists and weighing up of financial pros and cons, an account of what they were hoping/planning to do, then how successful it was. There are some quite funny bits here and there, but writing up practical procedures in such a way that they hold the attention is extremely difficult.
I think this would have been better as a series of blog posts, with pictures, rather than a book, so you could see the progress, and really get to know the characters. It’s chatty, the people likable, but I feel its current form has limited appeal. Publishing one’s diary is always a challenge: can you make your life sound interesting enough to capture the interest of a total stranger?
Sorry not to give a higher star rating, but the 3* represent the fact that the writing is very accessible, the domestic parts pleasant to read, and I do think it contains value for anyone who is embarking on a similar venture.