by Milly Johnson
** Edit upon finishing a re-read 09/07/2022** Listened to this on Audible, read by Colleen Pendergrast.**
Finishing this book with a sigh of satisfaction, I’m more blown away than ever with Milly Johnson’s comedy, wit, brilliantly constructed plot, and character development. Lou starts out as a “limp lettuce”, manipulated by her husband, family, and just about everyone in her life without a true friend in the world except a nice colleague at work. But from page 1, the reader sees the wheels turning in her mind and the light beginning to dawn. This makes her slow journey fulfilling rather than frustrating. She reads an article called “Spring Clean Your Life!” touting how “The simple act of clearing out some rubbish can put you on a path to your whole life moving forwards.” Lou is motivated to clean out a kitchen drawer, then a closet, then her whole house, room by room. While doing so she starts to regain her true self. Outwardly her same sweet subservient self through much of the first half of the book, things finally come to a head at a dinner party with her family where she, for once, refuses to be run roughshod over. Her husband and her guests are shocked and confused. “Tension hung over the table like a hydrogen-filled Zeppelin flying low on Bonfire Night.” And it is delicious. As her words and actions start to match what is in her head and heart more and more, Lou makes stride after stride towards a transformed life in which all of her dreams come true. And no “big misunderstanding” temporarily mucking up the works near the end. Thank you, Milly.
I read this as book 1 in the 4 seasons collection, My first foray into Milly Johnson after Yorkshire Pudding***
Milly Johnson is superb. I could hardly put this book down. She kept me giggling, cheering, and my heart clenching and unclenching throughout. What a great writer. She’s like an English Kristan Higgins. Lou is a lovely mid-thirties woman who is treated like rubbish by her despicable husband, her mother, and her sister. At first, she seems like kind of a doormat, but you know she has spirit by her inner thoughts that you so want her to say out loud.
“Don’t go to any trouble if you’re busy. I can get a bus down.’ If you can get someone to unnail you from your cross first, thought Lou.”
I love the way she adds to her characterizations by quirky little details that make her players either more endearing or more vile. For example, in Lou’s case, she has a habit of mangling common expressions and words: “He’s all over you like sliced bread.” … “neither of you thought to tell me I was being cuckooed in public!” Cute!
After reading an article about cleaning out all of the unneeded junk in the house, and developing a crush/friendship with the bin guy, she finally starts to see herself and her situation with clear eyes. She reestablishes her close friendship with Deborah, whom after she outed his slimy affair, her husband had forbidden her to see. From then on, we go on an inspiring and delightful ride with Lou as she finally starts to speak the truth to her nemeses and finds her inner Boudicca by going back to her dream of owning her own bakery and café. By the end of the epilogue, Lou has her happy ending and all of her foes, including her lazy plumber and her former boss, have gotten their just deserts. There are a few you even start to feel a little sorry for. Not really. **5 out of 5 stars**
May 4, 2019