Saturday, 23 May 2009

Books books books: A brief review of Instructions Not Included by Charlotte Moerman

English language books are hard to come by in Tuzla. English language books that I want to read are even harder. So when Virgin Books sent me a book to read in return for a post about what I thought of it, there was no way I was going to say no. Some weeks later, the Bosnian postal system taking its time on delivering the parcel, the book arrived: Instructions not included by Charlotte Moerman, tales from the frontline of bringing up three boys.

It took me a while to start the book, primarily because Adam fell in love with the cover, a cartoon depiction of life with three boys in which the eldest is shooting a water pistol at one of his brothers. 'Look Mummy' said Adam with delight, 'that's me!' and promptly took the book to bed with him gazing in awe at his new water pistol toting hero. So, Ms. Moerman, I hold you directly responsible for the drenching of my kitchen the next day.

Once I had finally wrested the book away from his sticky little hands, I stuck them all into bed, barricaded the bathroom door and ran a very deep very hot bath. Interrupted only to be given a glass of chilled white wine by Dave, and then again slightly later to have the glass replenished, I started the book.

Oh my goodness, I laughed. I knew that I was going to enjoy it as soon as I read the lines 'hell after all hath no fury than a mummy whose laboriously made fish pie has been rejected'. This, I thought, is a woman who feels the pain. I have been there. I have lost the plot over some untasted macaroni cheese. This Charlotte Moerman she knows what she is talking about.

Charlotte writes The Buggy Blogs and I'm not sure if the book was a tying together of her best and favourite posts or written from scratch. Sometimes it is a bit jumpy, moving between different times in a way that occasionally I found difficult to follow. She is also writing for other Mummies. If you didn't have children and weren't in the zone of reading Julia Donaldson books ad nauseam, then some of her writing would be pretty difficult to follow. But if you are, you will recognise it immediately and it will bring a wry smile to your face.

I did enjoy it though. Very easy to dip in and out of, it is still living in the bathroom and I find myself going back to reread bits of it that made me laugh. I had been thinking about giving my copy away, but changed my mind. It's too good and too worth a reread in the future.


Sparx said...

I was going to ask how the hell you ever had the time but you did lock yourself in the bath!

I'm aware I haven't managed to give you that self-raising flour recipe and it's been months and months. I started posting it ages ago and realised I'd lost it. I've found one which seems to be what I remember and it is two cups of flour to a one tablespoon of baking powder. I also add a quarter of a teaspoon of baking soda and a pinch of salt to that. Let me know if you use it!

Wife in Hong Kong said...

The book sounds more than relevant to my life! Waterstones has no idea what will hit it when I get back to London.... I will probably be single-handedly responsible for an upturn in their mid-year sales. Great post - definitely worth them sending you more.

Mama Nut said...

Hi, I just found your blog on the Mom Blogs, and I have to say I really enjoyed reading about your adventures! I actually read all the way to the bottom -- I usually stop after the 2nd post. But you had me.

Love it! I'll be back for sure.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Sparx - locking yourself in the bathroom is a very useful tool. It did take me a couple of evenings of prune like shrivelling to finish the book though! Thanks for the SR flour tips. We're in UK at the moment (actually US but that is a whole other story) but are back in Bosnia on Sunday, with a birthday cake to cook. I'll be trying it out then! Thanks for taking the time.

Wife in HK - get the book. And you and I will be responsible for their upturn, I'm stocking up on books before we go back on Sunday.

MN - thanks for stopping by - glad you enjoyed it!

A Modern Mother said...

I need to read that one, I only made fish pie once.

I have some more mummy blogger books I can send you -- do you have Mel's?

Metropolitan Mum said...

I envy you. This book is sitting on my desk since AGES and I just don't see light at the end of the tunnel... Though now I am really determined, you triggered my appetite :-)

Have a little something for you over at mine.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

MM1 - always interested in any more books! Send them my way.

MM2 - Thanks! And I hope you enjoy the book too.

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