We read These Foolish Things with our bookclub a few years back and the following Christmas, we watched the movie. It was our Christmas tradition to watch the film version of one of the books we’d enjoyed that year. Other years we watched The Help, after reading the book by Kathryn Stockett and The Dead, following from the story of the same name by James Joyce. Usually, it was fun to see the characters brought to life and the plot twists occur as expected on the screen. This wasn’t the case with The Best Marigold Hotel, the film which is based on the book. In general, the storyline is vastly different, but the great characters developed by Deborah Moggach had been used. So I was delighted to get the opportunity to read her latest book for this months first review. Its The Black Dress published by Headline Review (www.headline.co.uk ) 22nd July
When Pru’s husband walks out on their seemingly rock solid marriage, she’s distraught. More over from the shock of the break up and the loss of the life they had, than him leaving. Still reeling from the bombshell, she goes off to a friends funeral, the hymns are the same, words of praise. But the eulogy is different, not the person she knew… She’s gone to the wrong funeral. Everyone is very welcoming, its quite hilarious actually. and more fun than she’s had in ages. So Pru buys a Little Black Dress in a charity shop and goes to another funeral and another. People don’t want to make scenes at a funeral, what harm can it, or will it…
I approached reading Deborah Moggach’s new release, The Black Dress, anticipating another great cast of characters, but maybe not a lot happening. There is a fine but small cast of characters, however, we mainly follow the life and thoughts of Pru.
Lots of things do happen in this book. Deborah Moggach really throws the kitchen sink at this drama in terms of plot twists and turns. Sometimes several things at once, so you can understand why Pru is overwhelmed with all the changes to her reality. There are lots of surprises and a good dash of dark humour. I’ve just read the Thursday Murder club, by Richard Osman. There, I loved the character of Joyce, with her constant eye out for lonely men and her wry wit. I thought Pru was going to be of similar ilk. However, Pru is a bit less resilient and bit more whiney. She reminded me of the Liz Jones column in the Saturday Independent, which I refer to as ‘Liz Jones Moans’ so I guess, personally, I found Pru a little harder to like. She may well sit better with other readers. This didn’t take too much way from my enjoyment of the writing. The story is funny and the scenarios farcical but believable. There is some pathos there too. The characters show their vulnerability and humanness.
This English author Deborah Moggach’s (www.deborahmoggach.com) twentieth book The others include, You Must Be Sisters (1978), A Quiet Drink (1980), Porky (198383), Driving In The Dark (1988), These Foolish Things (2004) on Which The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ,was based, and The Carer (2019). She’s also written two collections of Short Stories – Smile and Other Stories (1987), Changing babies and Other Stories (1995). On top of that she’s written two screen plays Pride & Prejudice(2005) Starring Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen, and Tulip Fever (2017). She she currently divides her time between Wales and London.
I’d recommend this book to fellow ladies of a certain age, who have a naughty twinkle in their eye, an open mind and a good sense of humour, but sadly I wasn’t cheering for Pru in the same way as I was for Evelyn in These Foolish Things.
Reviewed by: Georgina Murphy
This review is part of a random things blog tour, to see what the others thought the book visit their blogs listed below. Then if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. we’d really appreciate the feedback.