Fly in the Ointment
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Fly in the Ointment

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  55 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Guilt is in the eye of the beholder ...

When her cold and indifferent husband vanishes, so does Lois's old life. Now she is ready to take her chances again. There's only one fly in the ointment: Janie-Gay, ex-partner of the son Lois lost to drugs, and spiteful mother of the small, neglected child she can't get out of her mind.

Caring's not something one can lay aside, and Lo...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published 2009 by Black Swan (first published March 25th 2008)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fly in the Ointment, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Fly in the Ointment

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 84)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Brett Hetherington
[An edited version of this article was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, April 2013.]

In this story the dangers are not so physical (at least most of the time), but the psychological scars of personal tragedy are equally clear to see. In this very English of stories, Lois is a mother who faces a string of ethical questions in her life and largely chooses the dishonest options. She wants to somehow make-up for her perceived failures as a mother (and a wife) but doesn't quite want to tr...more
A short, compelling and uncomfortable novel, it challenges our attitudes and beliefs as to whether some people are beyond hope and redemption. Taking this even further, it poses the unthinkable question as to whether it would be better if such people were dead. In the process it touches upon issues such as social-class, weakness and dependence. The main character, Lois, is manipulative, deceitful and scheming, yet I could not help but sympathise with her and the wrong choices she makes, especial...more
Mirren Jones
A short novel; an unusual, painful, at times horrible, story, perhaps not surprising given child neglect is at its heart. Fine writes simply, but skilfully and elegantly. The story builds up as she weaves in the transformations and multiple deceits played out by the main character, Lois, with the spiteful actions of Janie-Gay - the ex-partner of Lois' dead son.

Why I didn't like it more is because Lois is not a very nice person, and being inside her head (the book is written from the first perso...more

I finished this short novel today - only 220 odd pages but incredibly well written.

A story narrated by a lonely, middle-aged woman who has lost both her son and her husband and has nothing much to give and also gets not much of anything from life - it should make pretty grim reading but the author races the story along with touches of humour and it's almost gossipy in the telling.

It's difficult to write much without giving the story away - but it really is an irresistible read, very difficult t...more
even if it is not a masterpiece - still worth reading, very real (unfortunately) story about the world and situations we usually try not to notice, but look around and that is what you can see; young, weak, lost people looking for wrong solutions, mothers so self centered that their children are only a bargain... so sad and so well written. well done, Anne Fine!
I really enjoyed this book right through the the last 20 or so pages. The story built well and the characters were good, it was engrossing and affecting. I felt the end was a bit sudden though. Not unexpected, as hints are given right at the start, but I didn't feel it fit quite right with the rest of the novel.

Still, well worth a read.
Antony Bennett
A good read, written in a simple, elegant style. Some of the main character's actions were a little difficult to believe, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.
This book was a fun, easy read and featured a healthy does of black humour but it didn't leave me with any significant emotional impression. A good book to borrow.
An unusual book which really gets you into the mind of the central character. Reminds me of Sebastian Faulkes Engleby though not as complex and sinister.
I registered a book at!
This is more like it for a good read. A well constructed story with no pretentious airs but still manages to give you lots to think about.
Louise Armstrong
Well written, as usual but child neglect is so painful to read about & I couldn't believe in the main character.
"In any case, Guilt isn't minted fresh!" - That's the one line I can't forget from the novel I read 4 years ago!
Santa Ze.
Excellent book!
Easy to read and keeps attention till the end.
Really loved this book in it's simplicity.
An excellent read, will certainly be hunting for more of her books.
Helen added it
Aug 12, 2014
Cathyd is currently reading it
Jul 27, 2014
Kay marked it as to-read
Jul 06, 2014
Christina Browne
Christina Browne marked it as to-read
Jun 04, 2014
Jude marked it as to-read
Apr 26, 2014
Joj marked it as to-read
Mar 10, 2014
Sue marked it as to-read
Feb 08, 2014
Shirley Zammit
Shirley Zammit marked it as to-read
Jan 13, 2014
Sarah added it
Dec 30, 2013
Helen added it
Dec 26, 2013
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Although many readers find themselves giggling aloud as they read Anne Fine's writing, her books can be deceptively weighty. "A lot of my work, even for fairly young readers, raises quite serious social issues," she admits. "Growing up is a long and confusing business. I try to show that the battle through the chaos is worthwhile and can, at times, be seen as very funny." In 1994, audiences around...more
More about Anne Fine...
Madame Doubtfire The Tulip Touch Flour Babies The Diary of a Killer Cat (The Killer Cat, #1) Charm School

Share This Book