What’s it all about?:
Dawn French, number one bestselling author of A Tiny Bit Marvellous and Oh Dear Silvia, returns with her joyously funny new novel, According To YES.
The Foreign Land of the Very Wealthy – otherwise known as Manhattan’s Upper East Side – has its own rigid code of behaviour. It’s a code strictly adhered to by the Wilder-Bingham family.
Emotional displays – unacceptable.
Unruly behaviour – definitely not welcome.
Fun – no thanks.
This is Glenn Wilder-Bingham’s kingdom. A beautifully displayed impeccably edited fortress of restraint.
So when Rosie Kitto, an eccentric thirty-eight-year-old primary school teacher from England, bounces into their lives with a secret sorrow and a heart as big as the city, nobody realises that she hasn’t read the rule book.
For the Wilder-Bingham family, whose lives begin to unravel thread by thread, the consequences are explosive. Because after a lifetime of saying no, what happens when everyone starts saying . . . yes?
What did WE think?:
CHRISSI: What were your first thoughts before going into reading this book?
BETH: I was quite excited! I love Dawn French, she’s a bit of a national treasure here in the UK as well as being a very gifted and funny comedienne. And although I have her novel A Tiny Bit Marvellous on my Kindle, because of the huge amount of books I have to read, I haven’t managed to get to it yet. (*hangs head in shame*). So, this was going to be my first experience of Dawn French as an author and I was looking forward to it.
BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel. If so, whom and why?
CHRISSI: It’s hard to pick a favourite character if I’m honest. Some of the characters were so ridiculous and I found it hard to connect with them. I think if I had to pick a favourite it would probably be Rosie. I felt like she was full of life and although she sometimes made decisions that I disapproved of, I thoroughly enjoyed following her story. I thought she was a character that’ll divide readers and I like that.
CHRISSI: Rosie aims to change by saying ‘yes’ to life. Discuss the choices she makes in the book.
BETH: When we meet Rosie, she is arriving in New York for the very first time after leaving a situation in the UK that we are not aware what happened for quite a while into the book. She is apprehensive but excited about the new challenges that face her in life and she is determined to live life to the full. What that means for Rosie is saying “Yes,” in situations that she might have previously shied away from and enjoying herself as much as possible while trying to integrate herself into the lives of her new family, the Wider-Binghams, where she is due to work as a nanny for the couple’s grandsons. However, Rosie does not realise that the decisions she makes while living with the very interesting family, will have ramifications for the rest of the life. So perhaps the decisions she ends up making or the situations she finds herself in aren’t necessarily the best ones? Say no more!
BETH: How well do you think Dawn French used humour in this story and could you see past it to the deeper message underneath?
CHRISSI: I thought the humour was used well, but unfortunately Dawn French is seen for being such a funny lady that I think the rating of the book has been rated down because of its more serious moments. It’s not what you expect. It’s nice to read another side to Dawn’s writing. However, the plot was a little strange and OTT for me. I think you expect to laugh a lot, but there was a deeper message in the story- about family and love.
CHRISSI: The Wilder-Binghams are a very ‘buttoned up’ Upper East Side family. How are they changed by Rosie coming into their lives?
BETH: Rosie is like a breath of fresh air for er… some of the Wilder-Binghams at the start of their relationship at least! Her views and attitudes are quite different from what they are used to, especially the matriarch of the family, the stern Glenn Wilder-Bingham who just doesn’t seem to “get” Rosie. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the family, especially the grandsons who end up adoring Rosie and everything she stands for. Before long, certain incidents which I cannot mention have the entire family re-assessing their futures for good. Relationships falter, secrets are told but in the end, they all come out hopefully stronger and happier people for Rosie’s influence.
BETH: Would you read another book by this author?
CHRISSI: I’m not sure if I would. I have heard that this book isn’t her best, but I didn’t find it compelling enough to want to read more of Dawn’s work. However, if anyone thinks I should give her writing another try then let me know!
Would WE recommend it?:
CHRISSI: Probably not.
BETH’s star rating (out of 5):
CHRISSI’s star rating (out of 5):