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Oh Dear Silvia: The gloriously heartwarming novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of Because of You

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I think this would make a better play than a novel (I was reminded of Simon Gray’s play “Life Support” which has a similar setting).

for me, a very mixed bag and whilst there are a fair few characters, each chapter is titled with their name so it is very easy to follow. Throughout her time in hospital, she is visited by family, her best friend, her ex-husband, her nurse, and her cleaner. These characters range from Silvia's family members, her friend, her cleaner to her nurse, Winnie, who really felt like the lynch-pin for the whole story. It is also about relationships and family, huge focus on both, with Sylvia being in a coma, all the characters address all their issues with her in a very honest and raw emotive way. I didn’t like many of the characters apart from Winnie and Cassie (and Willow), but it was interesting to read how their stories interacted as they talked with Silvia - their friend, ex-wife, employer, mother and patient - who was in intensive care in a coma.It's a story about loss and saying goodbye, but it's also a story about finding the truth and finding love.

Our most serious character in the book is probably Ed, who I did enjoy reading about, but sometimes, in contrast with the other characters, felt a little dull. I was very impressed with the authenticity of each character, as they were all so very different, though you could still sense that some of the characters were connected (Ed and his daughter). All centred around the now lifeless hub that is Silvia, the characters deal with their grief, guilt and fear, and it becomes clear - to them, and the reader - that humanity is a vital part of moving on in life. Winnie was very optimistic and talked to Silvia as if she was awake and chatting back which made me realise how difficult it must be to work as a nurse on such a ward with no interaction. But then we find out that the end of the marriage was precipitated because Silvia helped Cat dispose of her dead husband’s body, which happened three years ago, so Cassie can’t have been kicked out over four years ago.I'm a big fan of Dawn French and have read a few of her previous books, so I expected this book to be as good as the rest, how wrong I was ! Overall, I was impressed with Oh Dear Silvia, and though I was unsure of it at first, I was glad that I stayed with it as it improved from the midpoint onwards. It also seems like a cop-out that every accusation every leveled at Silvia occurs when she's unconscious and unable to respond.

Each character talks to Silvia in her coma, their stories all seen from her hospital bed (including occasional clunky exposition but that can e forgiven). They must be Dawn French fans and so am I, but her books are bestsellers because of her name, not her writing talent. There is some funny parts in this book that will make you laugh out loud, and the characters themselves are very interesting, but there is just something about this book that is missing. It's just so hard to read, and you really don't need that much of it to understand that the character has a thick Jamaican accent. The eponymous Silvia is lying in hospital in a coma after having fallen off her balcony, landing three floors below.I wished for a little less use of dialect in the nurse looking after Silvia, though I have to admit the housekeepers malapropisms (due to her sons teaching her the wrong words in English) were hilarious. The early chapters can be fairly dull, but the novel gradually picks up speed and I read the second half in one bleary-eyed, sniffly sitting. You take farewell of the characters like they are good friends (it really feels like they are) and even if it's a bit painful, you know it's time to let go. The only niggle I can identify is that one of the character’s sections is written in the style of their Jamaican accent (Winnie the nurse). Though this is written by a comedienne, it does have quite a lot of serious issues brought up which added sincerity and seriousness to the writing, which I appreciated.

I really wanted to like this book and in fact I had mentioned it enough times that my boyfriend bought this for my 21st birthday (3 years ago, oh my goodness). She is visited by Ed, her ex-husband, Jo, her older sister, Winnie, her West Indian nurse, Tia, her housekeeper, Cat, her lover and "friend," and Cassie, her estranged daughter.Each brings their own issues and slowly reveals Sylvia's past, their issues and relationships with her bringing the reader into the know of just who Sylvia is. Tia is foreign and her children taught her to use lots of swearing and incorrect words when talking - sure, it was funny at the start, but I found it to be tiresome after a while and didn't like it.

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