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Fly in the Ointment

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  70 Ratings  ·  18 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
Paperback, 288 pages
Published 2009 by Black Swan (first published March 25th 2008)
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May 05, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 22, 2016 Lesley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this really disappointing. It's a story of drug addiction, child neglect and desertion, but it's written in an irritating, throw- away comic vein. It's not even black comedy, it's just a bizarre narrative that is so facile the characters become meaningless, and you don't care what happens to them.
This was written by Anne Fine, whose book "Madame Doubtfire" was turned into such a huge Hollywood hit. I understand she writes children's fiction, and this would explain the way this book is wr
Mike Finn
Apr 10, 2015 Mike Finn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Unrealistic, dull, horrible people treating each other horribly.
Obviously not a style or theme I appreciate!
Jan Bailey
Feb 08, 2016 Jan Bailey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read. interesting personal dilemma for the heroine. Raises a lot of issues.Somewhat fanciful.
Feb 24, 2009 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Aug 02, 2012 Joanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Sep 05, 2012 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 25, 2012 Antony Bennett rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 16, 2008 Nina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 08, 2011 Rosslyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 22, 2013 Katie rated it it was amazing
I registered a book at!
Nov 27, 2010 Michele rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
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.
Fami H
Apr 06, 2012 Fami H rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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.
Aug 27, 2011 Santa Ze. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book!
Easy to read and keeps attention till the end.
Really loved this book in it's simplicity.
Jan 13, 2010 Karen rated it it was amazing
An excellent read, will certainly be hunting for more of her books.
sedat  nezerli
sedat nezerli rated it it was amazing
Mar 22, 2016
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Though readers often find themselves inadvertently laughing aloud as they read Anne Fine's novels, as she herself admits, "a lot of my work, even for fairly young readers, raises serious social issues. 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, this unique combination of humour and r ...more
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