Those lovely people at Virgin books are forgiven for sending me The One I Hated, because they also sent me this one; The One I Really Quite Enjoyed. I knew I’d like it as soon as I saw that (despite its mom-lit credentials) the cover wasn’t pink with swirly writing and a graphic of a high heeled shoe impaled in a dirty nappy. More importantly, Charlotte Moerman is actually me. Well ok, she might dispute that, but basically we are interchangeable. She may have three boys to my 1:2 boy:girl ratio, but that’s pretty similar. She married a Dutchman, I married a Scotsman. Her blog was plucked from obscurity to become a shiny hardback book, and mine…. hmm, ok, well maybe we’re not quite the same.
The fact remains that Charlotte (I feel as though we’re on first name terms, now that we’ve met properly through British Mummy Bloggers) is really quite normal. She doesn’t have an affair with an ex-colleague, then realise the grass really was greener at home after all. She doesn’t manage a multi-million dollar business whilst looking fantastic and wearing her children in a hand-woven papoose. She just muddles through life with her boys, her absent (hard-working, not deserting) husband, and her quirky sense of humour.
The book encompasses Charlotte’s family life from early pregnancy with her first child, to the day that boy starts school, throwing in a couple more babies in the middle. I couldn’t help but feel it was a bit of a gallop, and I could have done with her pausing for breath in the middle and allowing me to catch up. It was rather like going out for a drink with a favourite old school friend you rarely see, with five years of gossip to catch up on. Confusing chronological leaps between friends can be easily sorted over a leisurely G&T with a, “so was that before he vommed on the cat, or after?”, but I was left flicking back pages to check which stage we were at. Even without knowing the author’s history as a successful blogger, I’d have hazarded a guess that this was a blog-to-book venture; it has a slightly disjointed, episodic feel to it, with (extremely amusing) Bridget Jones-esque fantasy breaks here and there. But such criticism is all rather mundane and structural and it would be churlish to allow these nit-picks to detract from Charlotte’s excellent writing which is fresh, chatty and amusing. I genuinely enjoyed reading her book, and laughed out loud on several occasions, causing much consternation from my husband (the dour Scotsman, remember?)
Just as we found out What Katy did Next, I’m looking forward to seeing where Charlotte goes now. I almost feel there were two books to be written out of Instructions not included; firstly the plot-based story of her own family and the challenges of moving from full-time career girl to full-time mum, and secondly a dip-in-and-out humourous guide to parenting, encompassing all the quirky asides hidden in her first book, which sometimes get lost in the reader’s need to follow the story.
I do hope there’s another book in Mrs Moerman; her writing deserves another outing.