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The Confusion of Karen Carpenter

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  585 ratings  ·  75 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
Paperback, Main Market Ed., 400 pages
Published August 15th 2013 by Pan Books
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  585 ratings  ·  75 reviews

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Jul 03, 2013 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, s ...more
Katy Noyes
Feb 16, 2015 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
Juliana Graham
Sep 15, 2016 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 si ...more
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I started this book I thought it was dreadful then boom! Massive twist. Cried buckets at the end. A surprising read.
Kally Sheng
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jonathan-harvey
How we can squirrel away information and not bring it out to cause pain, and how we can feel a hundred kinds of vulnerable just by remembering, with sudden clarity, how we once felt. - Pg. 61

Denial is a comfortably numb place to be. - Pg. 61

Life has a habit of coming along and slapping you round the face when you thought you were only trying to do something good, something right. - Pg. 136

Life has a way of not working out the way you expect it. - Pg. 351

Brilliantly written! It’s funny yet not fu
Anaïs Bogaert
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I bought this book in a cosy secondhand bookshop in London without any clue What the story would be about. It took a while to get into the story but once I got through the first few chapters the story got to me and i couldn't stop reading. It was Nothing like i expected but That's a good thing. The story has a surprising twitch that I didn't saw coming.
If I liked it so much why do I only give it 3 stars and not 4 or 5? Well, because it took a while to keep my interest and i've read other books
Mahak Dhameja
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
The way she has written is funny and really incredible. But the story is sad. So mix of emotions. Could turn into a good Hollywood movie
Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it
A feel good book. :)
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Leanne Riley
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
DnF I wasn't excited about the book it didn't keep me interested, which disappointed me because I was really looking forward to reading it.
Roxanne Clarke
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Loved it from beginning to end . Read all of Harvey's books and I was never disappointed. Cant wait for the next ones
Oct 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
0/10 why are dumped English girls neurotic messes who don't shower.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comedy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 07, 2013 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
Aug 19, 2013 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
Dec 30, 2013 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 co ...more
Seri Qadijah
Nov 30, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wayne Power
Aug 01, 2015 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
Apr 08, 2016 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
Aug 16, 2015 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 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 sp ...more
Oct 08, 2014 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 m ...more
Jan 26, 2014 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'
Nov 03, 2013 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
Feb 13, 2014 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
Misfits farm
Feb 08, 2016 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
Jan 17, 2014 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 ."
Oct 12, 2013 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.
Jul 03, 2015 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.
Dec 04, 2013 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.

Nov 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: gay-interest, humour
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.
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Harvey 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 of ...more