Book Review: Anyone for Seconds?
‘Life has been going downhill for ex-TV chef Lizzie Partridge ever since she famously ended her career by throwing a chocolate mousse at the couch pilot of Midlands This Morning.
The nest is empty, her lover has fled and Nigella and Jamie have the cookery scene sewn up. Can things get any worse? To avoid finding out Lizzie runs away, from the unpaid gas bill and the mouse under the sink. And in wet and wintry Aberystwyth she experiences a brush with her past and a glimmer of new prospects.
Her nephew, formerly an odious little tyke, has grown up and blossomed. He has a girlfriend who’s a TV producer and she has plans. Is Lizzie’s luck about to change?’ (Synopsis courtesy of Laurie's website.)
Anyone for Seconds? is a sequel to Laurie Graham’s previous novel Perfect Meringues, which was published way back in 1996, a book which in Laurie’s own words focused on ‘the HRT-fuelled rant of a middle-aged single mother (Lizzie Partridge), set in the world of TV cook shows’ (Perfect Meringues - Laurie Graham). Anyone for Seconds? brings us up to date with how life is treating Lizzie.
I haven’t read Perfect Meringues and I did wonder if it would make any difference to my enjoyment of this book, but thankfully it didn’t. I suppose it’s a book I may not have chosen of my own accord had I not been sent it for review because of this being a sequel, but it absolutely didn’t matter and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Lizzie is feeling unwanted and unneeded when we join her, hence her disappearing off to Wales without telling a soul. Her daughter doesn’t need her anymore; she’s no longer with her ex Tom; her Mum doesn’t need her thanks to her ‘perfect’ brother who takes her of all her needs; her career has flatlined and her best friend is too busy for her. She hopes her trip makes people sit up and take notice that she’s not around, not available, only it doesn’t! The trip does lead to some bizarre and fun adventures for Lizzie though!
This was a fantastic light read, which is just so funny, Lizzie is a proper character who reminded me a lot of my late Grandma! Lizzie tells it how it is, she’s direct, says what she’s thinking; she is living life to the fullest and is vibrant and vulnerable at the same time. She was a joy to spend time with!
I guess I don’t often read novels with older main characters (mid-sixties) and it was different in that respect and broke the stereotypes we see with older characters in many novels. Lizzie’s age was irrelevant, she is as old as she feels, the same for all of us! Like all of us, she can also still be childish (hence rushing off to Aberystwyth to see if anyone misses her!). Her love life is certainly eventful.
I enjoyed how every area of life Lizzie was frustrated with when we first meet her was tackled during the novel, even if not resolved. The story with her Mum and brother was particularly moving in terms of how that unravelled, yet the wit remained throughout.
Overall I’d say this is a great witty book with a strong central character and I will certainly be trying to get hold of Perfect Meringues to spend some time with Lizzie and find out exactly what went on to end her career!