Oh Dear Silvia: A Novel

Oh Dear Silvia: A Novel

3.5 2
by Dawn French

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Silvia Shute has always done exactly what she wants. But after a fall from a balcony, her life has suddenly, shockingly stopped. Now she's unconscious in a hospital bed, at the mercy of the mad friends and crazy relatives who have come to visit. Her beleaguered ex-husband, her newly independent daughter, her West Indian nurse, her bohemian sister, her best friend,

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Silvia Shute has always done exactly what she wants. But after a fall from a balcony, her life has suddenly, shockingly stopped. Now she's unconscious in a hospital bed, at the mercy of the mad friends and crazy relatives who have come to visit. Her beleaguered ex-husband, her newly independent daughter, her West Indian nurse, her bohemian sister, her best friend, her enthusiastic housekeeper, and others all share a piece of their mind with the woman—the bad mother, the cherished sister, the selfish wife, the matchless lover, the egotist, the martyr—they think they know.

And Silvia can't talk back.

As she lies there, captive to the beloveds, the babblers, and the stark-raving bonkers who visit her bedside, the dark and terrible secret she has been hiding for years begins to emerge. Like it or not, the truth has come to pay Silvia a visit.

Again, and again, and again . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The eponymous Silvia of this darkly comic novel, the second from popular British comedienne French, lies in a coma after a fall from her balcony. Each chapter features a visitor to her bedside, including Ed, her banally silly ex-husband; Jo, her frighteningly silly sister; Cat, her “best best ever friend” (self-described); Winnie, her good-hearted Jamaican nurse; Tia, her not-so-good-hearted East Asian housekeeper; and her estranged adult children, Jamie and Cassie. Their musings, elliptically, relate how Silvia came to be lying in a coma in a hospital somewhere in England, and, more tellingly, reveal something of the visitors’ own lives. With a couple of exceptions (Winnie and Jamie), those lives are maddeningly inane: Ed tries (and predictably fails) to kill himself; Cat can’t believe Silvia doesn’t share her romantic feelings; and Jo is an “unhinged woman with acres of confidence, which is a worrisome combination.” All three make the novel an uneasy, uneven mixture of farce and pathos, but it’s funny and, occasionally, impressively well written. One section, about Jamie’s experience in Afghanistan, is particularly fine, but very much at odds with the otherwise slapstick tone. Agent: Zoe Pagnamenta, Zoe Pagnamenta Agency. (June)
Library Journal
While Silvia is in a coma as a result of a fall from a balcony, her life story is revealed through those who come to visit her in the hospital and by her nurse Winnie. Silvia's sister Jo has felt responsible for Silvia's well-being since their mother died when they were children and is sure she can coax her out of her unresponsive state. Ex-husband Ed is a faithful visitor as he relives their happier times, and Silvia's estranged daughter, Cassie, finds a way to mend the fissures between herself and her mother. Housekeeper Tia makes the most of her employer's hospitalization as Silvia's lover Cat becomes more manic with each visit. It soon becomes clear that being unconscious has greatly improved Silvia's relationship with those closest to her. But Silvia has had strained relationships with them for years—could one of them be responsible for her fall? VERDICT Making her U.S. debut, British comedian (French and Saunders) and writer French has written a laugh-out-loud novel that is interestingly narrated in alternating chapters by characters with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. This is sure to appeal to fans of contemporary British humor like Absolutely Fabulous or Bridget Jones's Diary with a dash of mystery mixed in.—Karen Core, Detroit P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
Will Silvia, who's in a coma in the hospital, ever speak again? If not, then her visitors, friends and family will help piece together her story, while also revealing their own. Popular British television comedian French, who has already published two best-sellers in the U.K., makes her American debut with a downbeat story of family fracture narrated from multiple perspectives, using voices sometimes profane, sometimes strongly colored by dialect for comic effect, although the result is more clumsy than funny. If there's a plot, it's the mystery of why Silvia Shute became a different woman five years ago, suddenly divorcing her husband and estranging herself from her two children. The explanation emerges through the drip-drip repetitive pattern of chapters devoted to the individual visitors to her bedside after her mysterious three-story fall, each of these characters heavily delineated on each visit. Wacky sister Jo tries many offbeat remedies to wake Silvia up, even bringing a male stripper to the hospital bedside. Friend Cat and Indonesian housekeeper Tia reveal agendas, while busy Nurse Winnie tells her own tale while tending to Sylvia's physical needs. It's a labored form, and the conclusion is thin. French has a big, buoyant TV personality; how different from this dull, incomplete little story.
RT Book Reviews (top pick)
“Celebrated English actress and comedian French makes her American literarydebut with a deeply compelling story.”
Sunday Times (London)
“Fresh, extremely funny.”
Daily Mail (London)
Really enjoyable and highly recommended. Dawn French is a wonderful writer - witty, wise and poignant
Good Housekeeping
A hilarious and compelling read

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

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Oh Dear Silvia 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Hello! I'm Beyonder. Every week l'll try to post a bunch of skits and jokes. I might miss a few weeks, but l'll try to keep on keepin' on! Here we goooooo! <p> - District 12 Yearbook - <p> Here are the class surveys! <p> Most likely to fall in love with cousin: Gale Hawthorne <p> Most likely to be fake pregna<_>nt: Katniss Everdeen <p> Most likely to betray love of his life in an effort to win her favoritism when he gets stabbed in the leg and disguises himself as a rock: Peeta Mellark <p> - Interview With Gale Hawthorne - <p> Reporter: So why do you like Katniss? What has made her so attractive to you? <br> Gale: She has everything that l like. Everything that l'm into. Everything l look for in a girl. <br> Reporter: And what is it that she has and does? <br> Gale: Soft eyes. Kills children. <br> Reporter: Oh. Um. *coughs awkwardly* Well, what is Katniss to you. <br> Gale: She's like my sister. My hot sister that l occassionally kiss. <br> Reporter: *watches him with a mordified look* <br> Gale: We have these adorable pet names for eachother. I call her katnip. She calls me- <br> Bored Voice: Gale. <p> - The Truth - <p> 'I'm sorry' and 'l apologize' mean the same thing. . . <br> Except for at funerals. <p> - Parody Of Bad Blood By Taylor Swift - <p> 'Cause now we got bad tacos <br> I don't think we can eat them <br> You made a really deep crack <br> And now we have bad tacos <p> - Random Fact - <p> Soldiers at war have shoved tam<_>pons into their bullet wounds to help stop the bleeding. O.O <p> I think that's all for now. Sorry they were lame. I'm just very bored.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago