My Life on a Plate

My Life on a Plate

by India Knight

Paperback(1ST MARINE)

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Optioned for film and published in sixteen countries, this British sensation explodes the myth that all people need to be truly happy is love and marriage. Meet thirty-three-year-old Clara Hutt: irreverent, sometimes unkind, always self-deprecating. Clara is a part-time magazine writer with a perpetually mysterious husband and two small boys, and some days she wakes up with the feeling that her life isn't all it should be. Her extended stepfamily is forever making demands; her sons are constantly "murdering each other"; all the other mothers at the school gate are perfectly groomed, but Clara is in her pajama bottoms and her husband's sweater.
With razor-sharp wit and a healthy dose of insight into married life, India Knight takes readers on a continually entertaining ride through one woman's bumpy search for fulfillment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780618154449
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 08/23/2001
Edition description: 1ST MARINE
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

India Knight is a British journalist and a contributor to a number of magazines and newspapers, as well as a former columnist for the Observer Life section.

Read an Excerpt


What should happen is, I should somehow catch my reflection in a mirror, or a shop window, fifty or so pages in, and describe myself to you that way. Seems a bit contrived to me, that method, besides which, if I catch my reflection in shop windows, I tend to scream with horror, rather than tip my head to one side and make measured, composed obser-vations. Also, I always want to know what people look like right at the start, don’t you? You’d feel pretty peeved if you discovered, much later on, that I was a psychopathic two- ton Tessie with flat feet and a moustache, or—worse—some hateful, eating- disordery twig that wafts around in Prada smelling of sick.
So let’s get things straight. I don’t smell of sick. (That’s my friend Amber, whom you’ll meet later. Her hobbies are bu-limia and self-help books. My hobby is being compassionate.) And I don’t weigh two tons, although, as a ripe size 16, I’m hardly what you’d call frail and reedy either. What else? Five nine, dark hair, green eyes—oh look, I’m sounding all sexy, which isn’t quite right. Let’s see. If you asked Kate, my mother, she would shake her head very sadly, as if I were an especially precious kitten that had died in tragic circumstances, and tell you I’ve ‘let myself go disgustingly’. And I suppose she would be right. I mean, I’ve got the man, the house, the children: why not celebrate by tucking into a doughnut or two of a morning? Or an apricot Danish, or indeed a whole tube of Pringles . . . As a consequence, I favour elasticated waists and loose tops, although I have a sneaky liking for vulgar shoes and organza (which I try to curb, as nobody wants to look like White Trash Slut Mum at the PTA meetings). The best way I can think of describing my-self is: we’re not talking control pants yet, but we’re not go-ing to pretend that they haven’t struck us as being a pretty damned handy kind of a garment either.
My name is Clara, which is quite pretty, and my surname is Hutt, which isn’t, although it enables me to think of myself as Jabba the Hutt in my more self-loathing moments. This is useful. I have two children, Charlie, who is six, and Jack, who is three. I have a husband, Robert, who is a mystery (does anybody actually know what goes on in their husband’s head, or is it just me?) but quite attractive. I have a part-time job as a magazine writer, a big house and nice clothes, and friends that don’t smell of sick as well as some that do. I am thirty-three. And some days I wake up with the sneaky feeling that my life isn’t all it should be.

In the current climate, you probably want to know how I Got My Man. I do feel quite pleased with myself, sometimes, actually. I look at my friend Tamsin, thirty-four, single and desperate, and feel a warm glow of intense smuggery. Sometimes, though, I am so overwhelmed with jealousy—I can’t remember the last time I was out all night, drinking martinis and flirting with strangers—that I feel compelled to initiate lectures, masquerading as conversations, about all the things that might go wrong if one were—perfectly hypothetically, of course—trying to have a child past the age of thirty-five. This is because, despite external appearances, I am a) on the childish side and b) not very nice.
Getting my man: why, the trick is to be young and attractive. No, not really. The trick is not to look. Robert and I were twenty-five when we got married, which is comparatively young these days, and I weighed three stone less and was a bit of a minx, which helped. I can say it, now that I am an Old Married Lady, with my minxdom very much behind me—rather like my cellulite. I don’t know quite what happened. We met, we fell in love, we got married. It helps not to be desperate, as I’m so fond of telling Tamsin in my meaner moments.
Anyway, eight years! Isn’t that amazing? And I haven’t strayed. Well, I haven’t got naked. I kissed someone I used to go out with, at a party, two years ago, but I don’t think that counts. Does it? It was only a peck, though it was pecking with intent. I try not to think about it too often. Married women pecking exes with intent is like opening a tiny win-dow and letting in a shaft of light. People in my position really oughtn’t to do it. Or think about why they might have wanted to.

My mother is on the phone. It’s Robert’s birthday next week and, she says, we ‘need’ to make a plan. What I would like to do is have dinner, in a restaurant, alone with my husband. Life is, sadly, not quite that simple. Mine is the kind of family that likes to involve itself intimately in all aspects of each other’s lives. So on Robert’s birthday we’ll all be having din-ner together: me, Robert, my mother,, Kate, my half-sisters, Evie and Flo, their boyfriends and my stepbrother, Tom. We don’t actually get on with each other terribly well—my sistersssss excepted—but, coming from the kind of family we do—‘fragmented’ is an adjective that springs to mind, as does ‘dysfunctional’—we like the idea of these get-togethers, in theory if not in practice, and no one more so than my mother, the über-matriarch. The dinners often end in screaming rows, and someone always weeps. One of the things I like about Robert is his composure in these situations, which he seems to find amusing rather than exhausting.
Anyway, heeeeeeere’s Mummy: ‘Clara?’ ‘Yes, Kate.’ ‘Don’t sound so resigned, Clara. I am your mother.’ ‘I know, Kate. You are. Isn’t it bliss?’ I can’t help myself with my mother. I just can’t help it.
‘It’s bloody discourteous to put on that bored voice and be sarcastic.’ Kate is getting agitated now. Kate is revving up.
‘I’m not putting on any voice, Kate. Anyway, you are bliss.’ And it’s true. She is, sometimes. But not today.
‘Christ, Clara. You’re so sly and rude. Just like That Bloody Man. Your genes are coming out.’ This is a reference to my father. Kate and he were married for six months. He was followed by two more husbands, and we’re bracing ourselves for number four, who’s bound to occur sometime soon. My genes are always coming out, apparently. Peepo!
‘Kate. Robert’s birthday. Dinner. Where shall we go? Have you spoken to Evie? Flo?’ There is a pause, during which Kate splutters.
‘Do you think I have nothing better to do with my time than chase all of you all over London? Do you think? I have a very busy life. Very busy. The busiest, Clara. I can’t be expected to be your social secretary.’ ‘I know, Kate. I am busy too—the boys. . .’ ‘The boys! Those poor children. Don’t drag them into it.’ My children are always ‘poor’ when Kate mentions them, presumably because they have me as a mother and not Kate. Many men Kate knows are ‘poor’ also, because they have the misfortune not to be married to her.
‘Kate, it was your idea, the dinner. But fine. I’ll round everyone up. Since you are so very busy, and since my life is one enormous vacuum.’ ‘Hola!’ Kate suddenly shouts in my ear. ‘Hola! Up here! In the drawing room! Did you bring the Chanel pale pink? El pinky? Para los fingers? Clara, darling, Conchita’s here for my manicure. Which reminds me. Your fingernails are a disgrace. I shudder to think of them. I practically retch. Call me later.’ And she hangs up.

Copyright © 2000 by India Knight. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

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My Life on a Plate 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
jopearson56 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eh. I read this because I was going to a chick lit book discussion at the library. I'm not into chick lit. This book was fine, probably a good example of the genre, fun, easy-to-read, don't have to think about it, sort of just play along. The author/protagonist writes about her plain old life, just the stuff that happens, and her humorous take on things. Why do I care? I don't, but on the other hand, I guess that's the point of chick lit. It's not supposed to be important, it's supposed to be fun, distraction reading. Just that I have other stuff I'd rather read for distractions.
EBarry More than 1 year ago
This was a fun book to read. I felt the ending was a bit rushed, but it was entertaining and made me smile and laugh to myself many times.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Profound literature this ain't. However, for pure surprizing, tears in your eyes laughter, this was worth every cent. The ending fizzled just a bit, however the reading was worth it. Very outrageous and very funny.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was easy to get into. I really enjoyed it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was terrible! All the characters in this book are stupid and self-absorbed, as well as rude and unfunny. The ending was just tacked on with no rhyme or reason as to the characters' actions. Truly awful!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Please read this book! I loved it, and I will read it again as soon as I can get it back from the woman I lent it to. I related to Clara, fell in love with Kate, and would love to see more books by India Knight. This book deserves every word of praise it has received.