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The Confusion of Karen Carpenter

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  428 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
'Having the same name as a 70s pop star was just the start of her troubles . . .'

Hello. There are two things you should know about me:

1) My name is Karen Carpenter.

2) Just before Christmas my boyfriend left me.

I’m not THE Karen Carpenter. I just have the most embarrassing name in Christendom. Particularly as I’m no skinny minny and don’t play the drums.

I can’t even sing. I
...more
Paperback, Main Market Ed., 400 pages
Published August 15th 2013 by Pan Books
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Diane
Aug 13, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-books
This is Jonathan Harvey's second book (All She Wants being the first one) and is just as sharp and witty as the first. Karen Carpenter is in her late 30s and has been saddled with not only the name of a famous but dead pop star from the 70s but also with a mother who seems to be having a midlife crisis. Karen is also coping with the sudden departure of her husband, who left a note on the kettle and walked out of her life. Between that, and grieving the loss of a baby several years before that, ...more
Katy Noyes
Mar 02, 2015 Katy Noyes rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

I wasn't sure where this was all leading, it seemed very fluffy new-bloke-misunderstandings-will-they-won't-they, until over halfway through when the bombshell of the truth was dropped and it became something much more poignant and moving. Nicely done.

I spent a lot of the book also wondering why was there a need to call the protagonist 'Karen Carpenter'... okay, she's got the name of a famous singer. Besides the obvious comment she'll get, it didn't seem to have any relevance to the st
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Juliana Graham
Sep 19, 2016 Juliana Graham rated it liked it
This was an interesting and surprising book. I loved the character of Karen and found her really convincing, as if I could easily know her in real life. Her internal dialogue and also her funny conversations with friends and colleagues all felt convincing and made the book very engaging. The darker turn that the book takes half way through is very cleverly done as even though the subject matter is serious, Karen's character remains consistent which makes everything more realistic. Some of the ...more
Erin
Nov 05, 2016 Erin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women-s-fiction
Funny and touching.
KJ
Dec 05, 2013 KJ rated it really liked it
Firstly, let me say that I don’t particularly enjoy chick-lit. However, that is no problem since, with their cartoonish designs and garish colours, these paperbacks are easily avoided.

The Confusion of Karen Carpenter, with its bright blue background, sunflower and comical bee, conforms to the visual requirements of a chick lit book, so you might wonder why I picked it up from the shelf a nanosecond after seeing it. That would be down to the author’s name.

Jonathan Harvey is best known as the auth
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Neil
Aug 29, 2013 Neil rated it really liked it
This review is inevitably going to be biased as I am a huge fan of Jonathan Harvey having loved Beautiful Thing, Gimme Gimme Gimme, Beautiful People and All She Wants.

The novel follows the life of Karen Carpenter, a special needs teacher in a London school whose boyfriend Michael has left her. She now has to face her single status. To appease her loneliness her mother has moved in, complaining about rats in the attic and enjoying Zumba sessions, while her dad remains up in Liverpool. A whole hos
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SEM
Feb 06, 2014 SEM rated it it was amazing
This outstanding book really did hold me from start to finish it is just so very involving. It is the story of Karen, a teacher who finds herself suddenly alone at the age of 36. The writing immediately drew me into Karen's life and at the beginning of the book there is just so much easy warmth and humour. I lost count of the times I couldn't help but laugh out loud as I read. However, as I went on although I was still enjoying the story I started to wonder where it was heading. At the time I ...more
Seri Qadijah
Aug 07, 2016 Seri Qadijah rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wayne Power
Apr 24, 2016 Wayne Power rated it really liked it
Jonathan Harvey is a hero of mine so please allow me to be biased. This was one of the funniest books I've read in years. And then you're hit for six by an emotional gut punch. Harvey can make you laugh your head off and move you tears within a few pages.
From the heartbreaking miscarriage and loss of Evie to an hilarious Brazilian wax fiasco.

Harvey shines a light on such dark issues as suicude and mental health with great depth , understanding and pathos. I found it incredibly moving and powerfu
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Elaine
Aug 14, 2016 Elaine rated it it was amazing
My first experience with Jonathan Harvey was All That She Wants. It blew me away with the very candid humor right from the get-go and the minute I was done, I knew I wanted more. So I went and bought 2 more books. My experience with this book was a bit different though. It started out feeling like he was trying too hard with this book. The laughs didn't come as easily. But when I was about a third of the way in, I realised it wasn't him; it was me. So that's when I concluded it was because I had ...more
Elizabeth
Aug 20, 2015 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
Where to begin....I found this book quite hard to get into, for me it just didn't flow. i think it was because i was expecting something a lot different. Since the book advertised that it is written by a award winning comedy writer i actually expected it to be a lot funnier than it was...it was actually quite a serious issue book that was done all a bit out of proportional and believable-ness! One other thing that annoyed me was that on the back the book claimed that karen and her partner had ...more
Amy
Nov 02, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
I didn't know what to expect from this book, but having read The Girl Who Just Appeared, and loving that, I wanted to read another Jonathan Harvey book and quickly! Don't be misled by the cover,blurb or title of this book, it actually deals with very dark serious matters, including depression, loss and how we grieve. I literally could not put this book down, but its hard to review without giving any spoilers. I awarded four stars because i did guess the twist in the tale, but i will be reading ...more
Sue
Jan 29, 2014 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The skinny American singer's reluctant namesake is a 36 year old special needs teacher. Her partner of 20 years has left her and she doesn't know why, nor where he's gone.

Karen is surrounded by a cast of larger than life personalities in her quest to find out the truth and maybe move on. The tone of the novel is generally upbeat and very funny. However, there's a darker, sad undercurrent to the tale which gradually comes to the surface and which had me in tears by the end.

Not recommended if you'
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Elizabeth
Nov 16, 2013 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Somewhere between 2 and 3 stars, really.

It started off well, but began losing steam about 100 pages or so before the end, so slightly disappointing.

It's difficult to say anything about the plot of this novel without it being a spoiler, because there's a major twist in it. I guessed it, and it isn't difficult to do so.

There's lots of humour, and contemporary references to things like the 2012 Olympics, and plotlines in Coronation Street and Eastenders, which will date it quickly. There's one pa
...more
Lindsay
Feb 23, 2014 Lindsay rated it liked it
I loved the writing style in this book and the cast of characters were vivid and eccentric. Karen herself is an engaging heroine, although I didn't feel I really knew her (for good reason!).
It became clear that the narrative was holding some big secrets so a lot of the time was then spent waiting for these to happen.
All in all it was an involving & unusual read. On the negative side, it was unexpectedly dark in parts and the ending felt a little unsatisfying - just as we got to know Karen we
...more
Misfits farm
Feb 08, 2016 Misfits farm rated it really liked it
This started as a nice, cosy read about a woman whose boyfriend had left her and her day to day living and working. Then half way through OMG! The twist punched me in the stomach and made me reassess everything I had read so far!
Wow! That was so unexpected.
A brilliant piece of writing with excellent character, a very original plot, a wonderful twist and a giggle along with way. Highly recommended
Lisa
Jan 26, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: chick-lit
I've just finished and I was not sure what to expect. I found it hard to get onto this book and parts i thought could have been shorter and at times even left out . Other parts i felt just weren't long enough . I did end up really enjoying the book once i got into it . I found it to be quite funny but also sad and found I was laughing one min and had a lump in my throat the next . I would recommend the book ."
Mandy
Oct 20, 2013 Mandy rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-books
I loved this book. It made laugh out loud quite a few times, and left me tearful in others.
It was written from the main character's viewpoint, which, given that the author is male, really impressed me. I really liked Karen. I found reading about some of the situations she was in hilarious yet believable.
All in all, I'm very glad to have read this book and will definitely look out for more from him.
Lynn
Mar 05, 2016 Lynn rated it liked it
Really tried with this book but I couldn't quite get it. I did persevere and glad I did as it got much better towards the end. But I was put off by a couple of inaccuracies in the text and the immaturity of some of the language. karen was a 36 year old teacher not a 20 year old student. The plot was an excellent idea but could have been better written by a different author.
Ml
Dec 04, 2013 Ml rated it did not like it
Not the book that you would think. Marketed as a rom-com- about a women named Karen Carpenter- who;s boyfriend has left her.
As you read -the book becomes more and more depressing- when you find out the truth about her relationship with her boyfriend, and the shared loss they have experienced.

I found the book so sad and depressing that I didn't read the last two chapters.

Donald
Dec 21, 2013 Donald rated it liked it
Shelves: humour, gay-interest
The second novel from Jonathan Harvey isn't quite as funny as his first, but it deals with a more human tale than that of a soap actress whose life is going a bit pear shaped has more scope for a broader humour than a simple lonely teacher's life. There's still plenty of funny here though, just gentler, more subtle strokes.
Sarah A
Aug 30, 2014 Sarah A rated it it was ok
This book started out so good. Very funny and amusing. But then with about 100 pages left everything went south. Confused was I the reader, maybe as much as Karen herself. I expected a fun, light chick lit read but that isn't what I really got. I'm giving it two stars as opposed to one because it was entertaining and I did not completely loathe it.
Jessica Hiscocks
Sep 02, 2013 Jessica Hiscocks rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this, an easy read with a good sense of British humour and pathos. the plot twist was brilliant, maybe I should have spotted it, maybe it was obvious! When it was revealed, I read back and realised how it all fitted together and how well written it waa. Much better than All She Wants but that's still worth a read too.
Sin Tien Tan
Oct 18, 2013 Sin Tien Tan rated it really liked it
Characteristic of British humor, the book won't have you rolling on the floor in laughter but will probably brighten up your day. Personally, the plot and characters felt particularly one-dimensional, it feels like they are there just as props for the jokes and punchlines to take place. Don't get me wrong, the book is funny but I fail to see it is really more than that.
Sarah Tipper
Aug 08, 2015 Sarah Tipper rated it really liked it
This isn’t your usual getting over a break up book. It’s complex and surprising and sad and funny and no-one is perfect and sometimes people don’t behave well or understand each other. Harvey writes in such a way as to make you care about the characters and want to see the mess they get themselves into resolved.
Jenny L
Nov 13, 2015 Jenny L rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-books
Beautiful. Funny and sad and tragic and brilliant. What a great story, with an excellent, not seen twist. This is the third novel by Jonathan Harvey I have read and I am looking forward to reading the next. Highly recommended reading.
Pippa
Jan 10, 2015 Pippa rated it it was amazing
I started the book thinking that it was going to be a silly light book. I did not expect or predict the second half of the book. Beautifully written, charming, funny. Will definitely read another of Jonathan Harvey's.
Catherine McKenzie
Sep 26, 2013 Catherine McKenzie rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this and thought that Harvey did a good job of writing from the female perspective. Had the added benefit of having been in London while I was reading it, which gave it an extra resonance. Recommend.
Carolyn
The fact that amazon categorise this as humour is slightly misleading, it certainly starts off in a lighthearted way, but along the way deals with depression, death and grief. So not what I expected when I started reading, but I was glad I stuck with it.
Jo
Dec 11, 2013 Jo rated it really liked it
I loved this book. I was part way through reading it when I realised it was written by a man, which did surprise me.
I liked the humour but also there was a very good story running through it too.
I now have another of Jonathan Harvey's books lined up to read :-)
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Harvey[1] was born in Liverpool in 1968. He has a brother, Timothy Harvey who is a music teacher in Chester. His first serious attempt as a playwright was in 1987. Fuelled by the attraction of a £1,000 first prize to young writers from the Liverpool Playhouse, the result was The Cherry Blossom Tree, a garish blend of suicide, murder and nuns. This effort won him the National Girobank Young Writer ...more
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