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Life, Death and Vanilla Slices
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Life, Death and Vanilla Slices

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  456 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Jean Collins is in a coma. She stepped out into the middle of the road without looking and was run over by a motorbike. But what had distracted her? And why was she carrying a box of vanilla slices? For Jean's daughter Anne, these questions are the least of her concern.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Sphere (first published 2012)
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The cover of Life, Death and Vanilla Slices looks cutesy and fun, but don't go in expecting this to be a fluffy chick-lit read (like I did), because it's anything but that. Because of my wrong assumption of the novel when picking it up it took me a few chapters to get used to the gritty reality the characters were facing, but when I had familiarised myself with the tone of the story it did manage to pull me in and I was completely sold.

Middle-aged Anne hasn't seen her mother Jean in a very long
4.5 stars really, if they would ever make the rating system more nuanced around this place!

I loved this book. I bought it on the strength of seeing Jenny Eclair's comedic turns on television. But it's no laugh a minute comedy novel. Instead, it's a beautifully executed, poignant and compelling exploration of life, ageing and death, especially for women.

Alternately told through the eyes of a middle aged woman and her elderly mother lying in a coma. Anne feels middle-aged and frumpy, her huge brea
Lauren Kennedy
When I got this book I was expecting a fun, light read with lots of LOL moments. I was wrong. There was some LOL moments but behind the humour there was a dark, heart-wrenching story of a dysfunctional family.

It is about Anne and her mother Jean. Each chapter is from one of their POVs. I found this really worked because while Jean was in the coma, you were going through her old memories that she was thinking about while in the coma. Anne has two teenage sons and has to leave them behind while sh
I was very intrigued by title of this book. In my opinion "Life, Death and Vanilla Slices" sounds totally intriguing, doesn't it? And the cover of this book is so inviting. So when the book arrived I have started reading it immediately.
I didn't know what to expect and the first few chapters were very confusing but when I got into the tempo and rhythm there was nothing stopping me. This book was gripping and I couldn't put it down. The writing style reminds me a lot about Sue Townsend's style, wh
Trudie Davidson
'Chicklit' with less glitter and more grit! Probably the most real characters I've come across which in parts makes them more recognisable (!) but also less likeable which comes as a bit of a shock. Once you realise this is actually okay the book is funny in places, but often sad. Only reason it wasn't five stars was because I guessed the twist/end!
I really enjoyed this book. It kept me captured right to the last page. It was a real mixed bag being emotional, personal, cleverly plotted, humourous, dark and deep in parts. A very well written, different and interesting story.
I REALLY enjoyed this book. It's well written, gripping, intuitive, the story was good and well laid out, and there were a nice amount of twists to it with no moments of "really?". On the cover a reviewer said "utterly compelling" and I would have to agree, I found it hard to put down. The characters are so very real, and written with a generous heart that shows we all have flaws and that's just the way it is, good and bad. I would like to have given this 4 1/2 stars - I would recommend this rea ...more
Florence Penrice
I read this in more or less one gulp over 2 days, which isn't easy, as it's fairly hefty. I bought it having seen the author promoting it at Way With Words at Dartington and found it both amusing and moving - a hard act to pull off. I could have done with it being longer - I wanted to know how things pan out for the daughter. My only reservation is that, being a middle-aged woman, I am the target audience for the book. I've just passed it on to my daughter and will be interested to see what she ...more
So smart, written from the perspective of two women. A mother and daughter both reflecting on their lives. The Mother has been involved in an accident and her story is told from within a coma. The daughters story is so poignant as she struggles with middle age and her children having reached school leaving ages.
I really enjoyed this book - to the point where I was really sorry when it came to an end.
If I'd just seen the cover I wouldn't have even bothered picking it up, but I saw it in the Kindle store so wasn't influenced by the cover, thankfully.
Chris Moore
Super book - well written, easy to read but with all the meaty elements of heavier stuff. All human emotions in one good book.
Renata Ruby
This is a lovely book which cheered me up as I was held captive watching peppy pig with daughter recovering from being poorly
Tracey Hodges
I really enjoyed this book it was such a nice easy read with bits of humour & I could truly relate to the daughter in the book.
Angharad Truelove
I picked up this book expecting a fairly light, chick lit mystery - I couldn't have been more wrong!! This is a gritty novel that beautifully weaves together the difficult life stories of a mother and daughter into a suspenseful, thought provoking mystery. The characters are flawed, family life is far from perfect and both women question themselves and their actions. I could certainly relate to both women and found it very refreshing to read a darker chick lit novel, where not everything in the ...more
The narrative of this novel is told principally by Jean, who is in a coma, and her daughter Anne, who's left her (disappointing) family to sit with Jean. Both reflect on their lives: Jean's has been of stoicism, whilst Anne's (since marriage) has been one of wealth and privilege, a life she nonetheless feels has let her down. So the seeds are planted for the tragedies that unfurl throughout the course of their reflections. But wait Reader: this is a very funny book; in fact, it's one of the funn ...more
Megan Readinginthesunshine
Anne is shocked to learn that her mother Jean is lying in a coma after being hit in an accident. But what was it that distracted Jean and caused her to step into the road without looking? And why was she holding a box of vanilla slices, that was only ever for special occasions?

Covers can sometimes be a bit deceiving, and this is the case with this book. From looking at the cover, this may seem like a light, chick-lit, fluffy read, but it’s not. Instead we are given a gritty, sometimes dark and e
The frivolous chick lit cover of this paperback belies the novel within. This is a tragic story about families and lies. This is the first book I have read by Jenny Eclair and I was expecting not to like it. I have read fiction by other comediennes (Pauline McGlynn for example) which I found trite and dull, but Jenny's writing is on a different level. There is humour there, in the detail, but the story is thought provoking and makes you want to read on to see what other secrets are going to be r ...more
3.5 stars on our book club scale. This book is not start it seems. It is not fluff. It is not funny. It is quite sad and dark. It's written like fluff though which makes it a speedy read, especially in international flights, and there are some unexpected twists in the tale. The story flips between modern day and the last and alternates between two narrators: Anne and her mother, Jean, who is currently in a coma. Worth a read but don't expect it to put you in a cheerful mood.
Don't judge this book by the cover, suggesting it's a Chic Lit read. It definitely isn't. All the same, I found it to be a gripping read and loved the style of writing by author, Jenny Éclair.

Anne is a middle aged mum of two teenagers. Now her sons have grown up she has lost her role in life. A cruel twist in fate finds Anne reluctantly visiting her mother in hospital. She'd been knocked down and is in a coma. The story follows the thought process of both Anne and her mother, tracing the landmar
Wow, amazing. Especially if you're a fifty something! Well written, poignant story of families and a poor woman's tough deal in life. Really enjoyed it, and wanted to cry by the end. Brought back memories of my own childhood in the sixties (which was a lot happier than the characters' but its so well written, it pulls back memories). Cracking - I hope she's written some more.
Just excellent! Thanks Book Club for voting this for our Feb read - I would never have picked this off the shelf - not a great fan of cakes and just looked a bit naff. Couldn't have been more different - found it hard to put it down and became totally engrossed in a real, gritty family tale told by Mother & Daughter. The characters just jumped off the page and I had no idea where the author was leading us. A sad, bittersweet - yet honest and humorous account of real emotions between differen ...more
Rebecca Bates
This was a surprising book for me. I had thought it was going to be pretty light but it actually deals with some heavy questions I'm sure we all ask ourselves regularly. It does so with gentle humour and acerbic observation but altogether creates a genuinely moving account of a woman's family and their lives together. I'd definitely recommend it!
Sean Brennan
Although I really liked the book, why do modern female writers have to portray the vast majority of men as either complete and utter bastards, or in the case of Jean's husband Jim, although kind, physically an utter wreck. Come on! It is just laziness, it is far easier to portray men as inconsiderate swine, than to give a more balanced portrayal.

Also the ending of the book was a little bit too easy and convenient, all the correct boxes ticked, I feel that the story would have worked better, if a
This book is a fantastic read - I LOVED it. The two main characters, mother and daughter, are complex and interesting women. Like other reviewers have mentioned, it is definitely not a light and fluffy read. The story is quite a dark and sad tale, highlighting the complex nature of mother/daughter relationships. Highly recommend this book!
Although reviewers are reminding us we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover I had read the title & blurb on the back, so was prepared for coma and death. I was quite horrified by some character's bahaviour in particular the scrubbing with bleach and in general the teenage boys. I enjoyed it, I'd read J Eclair's books again. A good easy read with some bite.
Maggie White
Not an author I would have picked up but had heard so many good reviews thought I would give her a shot. So glad I did. This is a well thought out book about relationships and how people's reaction and actions can have consequences for other people. Book of guilt, love, hate, forgiveness. Story centres round Jean, Anne and Jessica. jean is the mother of the other two and is knocked down and in a coma. Anne has married well and has never been close to her Mum however is the only one that visits h ...more
Clare Hudson
Well written, kept me hooked, liked the style of writing - would definitely recommend it. Really liked the way the story switched between the mother's and the daughter's version of the same story. Very enjoyable - will definitely look out for more by Eclair - she's a good story teller.
I wasn't sure I was going to like this but it turned out to be a really good read. Well written with insights into the life (so far) of an ordinary family, the story looks back on life from the perspective of both a parent and child. The mother, child perspectives are cleverly linked, uncovering some unexpected events along the way that are not so ordinary and help you understand the characters as well as feel sympathy for them. Despite in essence belonging to a genre of light reading this book ...more
A funny but compelling read - laugh out loud in parts but incredibly sad. The story unfolds through the eyes of the main characters each adding their perspective and feelings. A satisfying ending with all the loose ends answered. Thank you
Gillian Mcintosh
Beneath the fluffy surface there's a gritty commentary on family life and relationships. Nicely written, well paced but by the end it's a case of 'oh my goodness!' Dark!
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Jenny Eclair is an English comedian, author and actor. She has appeared on numerous tv shows, most notably Grumpy Old Women, and Loose Women, performed on stage and hosted her own radio shows. She continues to tour her one woman stand up shows throughout the UK and was the first female comic to win The Edinburgh Fringe Perrier Award, in 1995.
She has written three novels, as well as contributed to
More about Jenny Eclair...
Having a Lovely Time Camberwell Beauty Grumpy Old Women Everywhere Say-- Chin Up Britain: Restoring Common Sense to the Nation Wendy: The Bumper Book of Fun for Women of a Certain Age Grumpy Old Couples: Men Are From Mars. Women Have Just Got Back From Tesco's

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