If you’ve ever dreamt of a new life in the country, this highly entertaining and candid account of country living might make you think again…

Fresh air, rolling fields, Cath Kidston tea towels and home-baked cake – isn’t that what Martha’s new life will be?

Apparently not. Having upped sticks and moved her young family from the gritty city to Paradise, she discovers things aren’t quite that easy. Collapsing kitchen ceilings; a plague of slugs; coffee mornings with Stepford mums and garden warfare with the neighbours are just a few of the trials. And with her husband away working in London, Martha just can’t stop thinking about the sexy builder who’s meant to be turning the house into her dream home…

Daisy Waugh’s name has often cropped up when I’m shopping for books, but for some unknown reason, it’s taken me until now to actually buy one and read it.

The ‘Country Housewife’ of the title is Martha: a writer from London who decides that it’s time for her family to escape the city so that her children can breathe clean air and pick blackberries. She and her husband quickly find the perfect house in Paradise, sell their home in London, and settle into country living. However, Martha quickly learns that she doesn’t like the country very much: their new dog keeps trying to escape, she can’t make any friends, and their perfect house is actually falling apart. And worst of all, Martha finds her husband becoming ever more absent; always with an excuse to stay in London for work, rather than face the long commute home. Martha’s time is spent fantasising about her builder and missing her friends and husband, rather than enjoying her new life. Can Martha, and her marriage, survive her decision to move to Paradise?

Martha’s story is told through her diary entries and the newspaper columns she writes about her life in the country. The diary is very personal and obviously a great way to get the reader to really understand and connect with Martha. The newspaper column provided a very interesting contrast: it not only served to move the story forward, but also showed us how Martha would present her problems to an outsider. The column becomes more honest as Martha’s problems become bigger and she finds it harder to cope with them.

What really sets this book apart from others of its type is now witty Daisy Waugh’s writing style is; there were points when I was laughing out loud. I also enjoyed how flawed Martha is as a person, and how it’s these flaws that lead her into the mess that end up in. There were points when I became really infuriated with the main character and her decisions, but I guess that’s one of the things that meant that those pages kept on turning: I just had to know what she was going to do next. Whether or not you agree with Martha’s decisions and actions, they make a very good story.

I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t completely sure how it was going to end; this made a really nice change as a lot of what I have been reading recently has been quite predictable.

‘The Desperate Diary of a Country Housewife’ is a very easy read (I devoured it in a single sitting) and Waugh manages to keep the pace constant throughout: I was amazed at how the time flew when I was reading it. It’s very entertaining and funny, and I’ll definitely be trying some of Daisy Waugh’s other novels soon.

4 stars

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