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Ceri Radford
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Constance Harding's (Rather) Startling Year: A Novel

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  489 ratings  ·  120 reviews
"A comic gem" (Alexander McCall Smith) about a housewife who kisses her chintz and her cheating husband goodbye
 
Constance Harding lives in a picture perfect house. She is, however, absolutely clueless about the real world, e.g.,
 
*why her twenty-five-year-old son still hasn’t found a nice girl,
 
*why her Lithuanian housekeeper’s thongs keep turning up in her husb
...more
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published March 29th 2012 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  489 ratings  ·  120 reviews


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Carol
Sep 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'd give it a 3.5 if I could. I picked this book off of the "staff picks" shelf at the library. It looked like something cute and light to read until something better came along.

Constance was sheltered and clueless through most of the first half of the book, but her naivete was part of what made her unintentionally funny. And although her life and blog entries seemed tiringly mundane in the beginning, when things got interesting later, I realized that the mundaneness served to set us up for the
...more
Lee Libro
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
The publicists at Author Exposure provided me with an advanced reader copy of A Surrey State of Affairs by Ceri Radford after I chose it from a selection of over fifty other books. With a clever title, a bold cover and promise for some British wit, I was drawn to it immediately.

Usually readers relate to a story through a writer’s craft with dialogue. Dialogue brings the character into the here and now, allowing the reader to be a spy on the wall. Getting into the interior life of a character tak
...more
Nancy McKibben
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anglophiles; fans of P.G. Wodehouse
Shelves: humor, reviewed
Constance Harding’s (Rather) Startling Year
By Ceri Radford

Constance Harding begins the year of 2008 with a blog, the suggestion of her son Rupert, who, the last time she phoned to tell him about her “ housekeeper’s blunders and the bellringer’s bunions” thought that his mother “might like to tell the World Wide Web all about it, rather than him. He is such a thoughtful boy.”

This observation is our introduction to the well-meaning but generally clueless Constance, the middle-aged mother of two gr
...more
Cheryl
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Constance Harding is wife and mother to two grown children. This does not mean that Constance isn’t still trying to meddle in their lives. Her daughter, Sophie, is a wild child and her son, Rupert has his own ideas of settling down and starting a relationship. Constance’s husband is too busy trying to avoid their Lithuanian housekeeper, Natalia and her under garments. What is a woman to do?

I found this book not as entertaining and as funny as I had hoped but still, it did provide me with some la
...more
Lisa
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this sweet story. Constance is hilarious. It is a beautiful, funny, and touching story told through a year of blog posts. Highly recommend this book.
Rebecca Bailey
After finishing the book, I had to look up Radford's bio; I'm assuming she's much younger than her protagonist and doesn't have a daughter Sophie's age. Her protagonist is 53, going on 54, but acts and thinks much more like my 76-year-old mother. (I'm 50, but great with the computer, and I can discuss in detail the success of 1D's members after the group's breakup.) Sophie acts like a five-year-old, not a gap-year kid, and in the age of helicopter parenting, I found it absolutely unbelievable th ...more
Ruth
Jun 16, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, contemporary
c2011: (11) FWFTB: Home Counties, bell-ringing club, party-planning, matchmaking, hat. A couple of pages in and I knew this one was not for me. I didn't like the 'voice' of the main character and since when does a woman over 50 have no idea of the Internet etc.. Shameless ageism and so middle-class, it made my teeth hurt. I had not realise that Ceri Radford is a Telegraph journalist and the character first appeared in that newspaper as a spoof blog. That actually explains a lot! She does not see ...more
Samantha
Apr 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A quick read from a mother's perspective of her life, husband, 25 year old son, and 19 year old daughter in their sleepy village just outside London. The book includes her trials and tribulations with technology, the ill fates of her playing matchmaker, and how a marriage can slowly fade into the routine. I found the novel witty & laughable at sections, the myriad of bell-ringer characters amusing, and the touching moments of a mother's love for her son. The difficulties of relationships and the ...more
Elizabeth
I was a bit disappointed as coming from Surrey I thought I would be able to identify with the characters but I didn't. The book is an easy read, it is interesting and the pace is not too fast. The story is written over the period of a year 2008, yet in many ways it seems quaint and old fashioned. It the sort of book I need sometimes when I have been reading very intense or disturbing plots and i need something to calm me down. Possibly a good present.
Lisa
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could tell right away that it was going to be fluff and little much else. The synopsis on the jacket was misleading in my opinion - the getaway came much later than I anticipated and for me that was a major letdown. I was hoping she would get away much sooner. I guess you should shouldn't always trust a book by its jacket, eh?
Still, the ending was heartwarmingly sweet; which made this pretty decent fluff.
Sally Escrader
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I fancied choosing to listen to the audio version... to keep me company while I worked. Not much work got done today! Goodness me! The book, narrated most brilliantly by Jilly Bond, had me laughing out loud often and heartily. The listener is always a step ahead of the main character, which makes one shout at her to “get with it”!!

A gem of a book... made so much more entertaining by the narrator’s prowess.
Sarah Johnston
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This novel gets off to a slow start and just as I was about to give up on it, it sparked a bit of interest and made me want to keep reading. The main character Constance is so naive about her own family it is almost hard to believe but it does get more interesting toward the end when Constance finally wakes up to herself. Enjoyable holiday read.

Go
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a cross between Keeping Up Apperances and Bridget Jones. Absolutely hilarious and completely of the time it was written for someone in their 50s.
The references to peach and John Lewis reminded me so much of my friends mums growing up, we were a cream and Marks and Spencers family 😂
The plot was obvious but it had that nostalgic 90s sitcom innocence to it and I loved it.
Helene
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rather funny look at a woman who's insular life and narrow views compound any issues she faces. Reviews talk about her naivete, which I did not find wholly charming. Nevertheless, the characters are deftly drawn, and the writing is very goo indeed.
Linda Famous
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
The version of the book I read has this title, although it seems to have been published under two other titles as well.
I enjoyed the epistolary style, in this case written as a series of blog posts. A creative way to resurrect an old style, and done very well.
Asia
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is in a format of a journal which spans from 1 Jan to 31 Dec. Initially, the story is quite slow and the protagonist is clueless about what's going on in her household. However, things finally began to be more interesting towards the end.
Randi
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The blog format was jarring to read, and I never felt connected to anything going on. Constance's naive nature and out-dated perspective was just off-putting, and I didn't root for her whatsoever. The whole book just made me crinkle my nose. I wasn't a fan.
Will
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a perfectly pleasant book that is easy and quick to read. The characters are fun and charming and even if it all goes off the rails for a little a bit toward the end, I had a larf of a time.
Christine
I found the Blog genre really annoying. On top of that, I felt no connection with the characters at all. I won't be seeking other books by this author.
Beth Cope
Not sure about this one. I read it all, but felt somehow uncomfortable throughout. The worldview seemed very dated... but maybe life really has changed that much since 2011
Yvann S
“I am still alive. That is about the most positive thing I can say about my current situation. Even this state of affairs may not endure: an obstreperous airport security official confiscated my water-purification tablets. Once, in happier times, I visited the Rodin museum in Paris. There I observed the famous sculture The Gates of Hell, which featured writhing, contorted, debased and demented human forms. That is what Ibiza reminds me of.”

Constance Harding is a little perplexed by the current s
...more
Christina Fixemer
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of British comedy.
Constance Harding is a rather ordinary, proper Englishwoman of Surrey. On January 1, 2008, she started a blog. Her primary concerns: Why the Lithuanian housekeeper couldn’t keep her skimpy underwear properly stowed away rather than strewn about the house; finding a suitable girl for her son in his mid-twenties, seeing as he has not done so himself; wondering why her daughter must dress drastically and behave so improperly.

The blog runs precisely one year, and it chronicles the most eventful year
...more
Sharon Redfern
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, ebook
Being a sucker for anything BritLit, I enjoyed this book. Constance Harding decides to start writing a blog on the “new” laptop her husband gave her for the holidays. Right off the bat the reader realizes that poor Constance is pretty much clueless about her life and family. An example; the computer has an inventory sticker on it from her husband’s law firm and she attributes that to his affixing it on the laptop in a show of “corporate loyalty”.
It soon becomes obvious that Constance’s life is n
...more
Stephanie
Mar 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This book was great fun! Radford has created a charming but highly naive, English woman who has resorted to blogging about the mysteries in her life over the course of a year. This was a suggestion by her son Rupert that "I might like to tell the World Wide Web all about it, rather than him. He is such a thoughtful boy." Through entries in her blog, we learn of her son's lack of interest in dating - "Ruth, Pru, and by extension, half the village are now laboring under the delusion that my son ha ...more
Susan in NC
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won't bother with a plot summary, as that is adequately covered above - although I think it makes the plot sound a bit more farcical than it is, and comparing Constance to Bridget Jones as a few reviews have done is a bit unfair. Both books are written in the first person as (respectively) a blog and a diary, but as much as I enjoyed Helen Fielding's book and heroine, I felt Bridget came across so much more desperate and pathetic than Constance! Maybe because I'm much closer in age and experie ...more
amaya
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably closer to a 3.5, and not a bad book - but the saucier bits on the jacket description didn't appear until the final quarter of the story.

Constance Harding is a proper conservative upper-class Englishwoman. She's incredibly naïve and sees fit to fix everyone and everything round her whilst missing the incredibly obvious; and she's more than a little judgemental, spoilt, and oblivious.

These factors were off-putting at first, until I kept finding myself laughing at the absurdity of it all
...more
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies


It was cute. I liked the British girl who is just clueless and slightly dim-witted take on a year in the life of a housewife. I thought it was a Wodehouse meets Adrian Mole meets Fawlty Towers all mashed up.
Meet Constance Harding, upperclass wife to lawyer Jeffrey who is only known to the reader through her descriptions of him. He seems slightly boring and mechanical and typical. They have 2 children, Sophie and Rupert and they are either going through the general angst of early adulthood (ta
...more
Elizabeth B
This wasn’t as cute or amusing as I’d hoped but it was a quick, light read that held considerable promise for a first novel. The main character was haplessly clueless and even not being in her age group I found that offensive. Instead of coming off as a cute, out of date woman she comes off as someone who has lived under a rock in absolute seclusion. The supporting characters were better drawn and added life to an otherwise slow moving tale. Sporadic blog entries that read like diary entries wer ...more
Ann
May 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Constance Harding, age 53, decides to take on a new hobby : blogging. Entranced with this exotic new endeavor, she uses the computer as her confidant. Because despite her lovely house, hardworking husband and beloved children, Constance is beset by perplexing events. Why does her husband, usually so uninvolved in the domestic sphere, interfere when Constance wants to fire the Slavic housekeeper? Why has her adult son never brought a girl home for his parents to meet? And what is her teenage daug ...more
Cara
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Constance, an English housewife that lives a pretty comfortable life, has started a blog. While she is not very familiar with how blogs or Facebook works, she gamely shares her life (which centers around her church and family) with the world. She is preoccupied with the bell ringing championships coming up, finding her single son a suitable mate, and trying to decipher her university bound daughter's behavior.

In the space of a year, Constance learns many things about herself and those around her
...more
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