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Life, Death and Vanilla Slices

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  680 Ratings  ·  114 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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(showing 1-30 of 1,074)
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Sep 19, 2012 Zarina rated it really liked it
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
Feb 08, 2016 Eileen rated it really liked it
Most of the novel is written in the alternating voices of Jean, who lies in a coma after being hit by a car, and her daughter Anne, mother of two dreadful teenage sons. Jean mentally catapults through happenings over her lifetime, and the tone is both thought provoking and convincing, evocative of the bizarre sequences which tend to occur in dreams. Her memories are laced with joy, anguish, guilt and regret. Anne, as she sits by her mother’s bedside, speaks aloud things which she’s never dared t ...more
Mar 21, 2015 Janiece rated it really liked it
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
Aug 21, 2013 Agi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
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
Lydia Bailey
Apr 08, 2016 Lydia Bailey rated it really liked it
Another cracker- in so much as the plot is original, the story absorbing and the characters 3D and totally believable. A mistake to read it straight after 'Having a lovely time' as there were a few noticeable similarities (Alice and Anne were clones of each other) & the book was almost entirely made up of reminiscences but......really enjoyed it and definitely recommend it.

Jenny Eclair really does hate men though doesn't she?!
Trudie Davidson
Mar 18, 2015 Trudie Davidson rated it really liked it
'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!
Nov 22, 2014 Margi rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 04, 2013 Joanna rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 15, 2012 Florence Penrice rated it really liked it
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
Aug 10, 2012 Sue rated it it was amazing
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.
May 18, 2015 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grading on a curve, this is a great book. I picked it up because family problems have affected my concentration and I wanted a light read. This is not that. The writing is full of humor and heart but at the same time the book has a lot to say about family. The author doesn't hit you over the head with any of the truths she unveils nor does she ever speak down to the reader. The reveals of the various secrets are perfectly paced and the book picks up speed as it goes along. Alternating narrators ...more
Jan 13, 2013 Sarfeastcaff rated it it was amazing
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.
Nadhiah Aida
Feb 23, 2016 Nadhiah Aida added it
Shelves: e-book
i'm having book hangover ... the ending not that tragic, only it's a sad thing that Jean didn't tell Anne that Andrew is her half sibling, from the rape on the night of wedding. Mr. Ganginer, Mrs. Ganginer's husband.
Jean is not cruel to Anne, just maybe Jean wants Anne to be like Jess. Jean is proud with Anne, intelligent although Anne is big size like her father. Jess turns like what Jean wants but unfortunately, Jess is a bad fruit. I think Jess is dead, kill by the lorry driver that she hitc
Chris Moore
Aug 26, 2012 Chris Moore rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 14, 2013 Renata Ruby rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 09, 2012 Tracey Hodges rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 17, 2015 Angharad Truelove rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
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
Mar 26, 2015 Alistair rated it really liked it
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
Heather Hyde
Jun 11, 2015 Heather Hyde rated it really liked it
I really didn't expect to like this book, but it's so cleverly written, it's honest and compelling, the characters flawed and believable. The writing style changes to suit the characters too, the sons of Anne are truly vile and this comes over really well, and I really wanted to shake Anne, how did she get to be such a doormat?! Mother and daughter re-live their past lives and come to terms with their mistakes, and there is a lovely twist at the end, a dark but easy summer read, with just the ri ...more
Megan Readinginthesunshine
Dec 21, 2012 Megan Readinginthesunshine rated it really liked it
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
Jan 03, 2014 Poppy99 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 16, 2014 Mya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 14, 2014 Sam rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 16, 2015 Soozee rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 01, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-books
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
May 20, 2015 Sanjana rated it it was amazing
I am so glad I picked up this book! The cover has a cute little plate of vanilla slices on it. I never expected the book's contents to move me.
It's a gripping read. I found myself unable to put the book down, especially towards the end because I wanted to know what happened to Jess!
I'm sorry to have finished reading this book. Highly recommended!
Rebecca Bates
Jan 13, 2015 Rebecca Bates rated it really liked it
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
May 28, 2013 Sean Brennan rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclubs
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
Feb 10, 2014 Catriona rated it it was amazing
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!
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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...

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