Finding the perfect bathroom

2008-10-02 08:05

THIS book is less about finding Mr Right and more about finding inner peace, fulfilment and the perfect bathroom.

It tells the tale of the naive 17-year-old Marianne Flowers, who succumbs to the lure of a luxurious bathroom at a house party in the swinging sixties. At the same party she meets her future husband, Charles, a shaggy-haired student.

They're an ill-matched pair - she's lower middle class and has been taught to do very little except prepare for marriage, he's upper middle class and turns out to be a chauvinist and a philanderer - but they nevertheless head to a registry office to tie the knot.

The only person who sees Marianne's true potential is her mother-in-law, Jean, who encourages her to read everything from the classics to feminist texts and tells her she is more than capable of going to university and making something of her life if she chooses to.

Marianne refuses to believe it. Eventually, however, when she divorces Charles, she finds the courage to follow Jean's advice. She heads to university and later still embarks on a career as a successful author.

Throughout this journey, she continues to choose unsuitable men and, despite her longing for the perfect bathroom, live in one grotty house after another.

I have to admit I found her tame acceptance of this state of affairs a tad annoying, especially once she's financially independent and able to do something about it. How hard is it to employ a builder after all?

That said, Yesterday's Houses is a pleasant read and you can't help cheering when Marianne gives her domineering husband the heave-ho. This is one for the women and perfect for a Sunday afternoon curled up on the couch.

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