THE TIME OF MY LIFE
By Cecelia Ahern
Published by Windsor Paragon (2011)
Hardcover (large print edition): 419 pages
Lying on Lucy’s Silchester’s carpet one day when she returns from work is a gold envelope. Inside is an invitation ― to a meeting with Life. Her life.
It sounds peculiar, but Lucy’s read about this in a magazine. Anyway, she can’t make the date: she’s much too busy despising her job, skipping out on her friends, and avoiding her family.
But Lucy’s life isn’t what it seems. Some of the choices she’s made ― and stories she’s told ― aren’t what they seem either. From the moment she meets the man who introduces himself as her life, her stubborn half-truths are going to be revealed in all their glory ― unless Lucy learns to tell the truth about what really matters to her.
Lucy Silchester has an appointment with her life ― and she’s going to have to keep it.
MY BOOK REVIEW
This was a book chosen by my local library Reading Group, of the Chick-Lit genre. Did I enjoy reading it. Sort of, depends what you want to read into it. As the book ‘The Time of My Life’ by Cecelia Ahern, very much reminded me of the online tabloid newspapers, which shows on the internet, the celebrities latest exploits being written about, with added ‘reader comments’ who discussed, digested, dissected and disembowelled, then left the celebrity for dead with only a single pulse left beating, one actually reads those comments in a mode of ‘how best to proceed from here on end’ in terms of the amount of ‘leave her alone’ which is written by the fan avid followers, while the celebrity’s said agent picks up the phone to tip off the newspapers where their client is going to be and what their going to do next. Whose life is it anyway?
As its in a similar fashion in how to read this book. For there is a ‘responsive’ element, that brings out from the Reader certain muttered under the breath the comments of pearly wisdoms regarding what should and shouldn’t be done in those circumstances. As the overall content of the book gives you that impression every few pages of one happening to tsk, tut, tut, tsk, tsking about Lucy’s multiple situations.
The dialogue within the book, as thats what its mostly made up with, for there is very little descriptive aspects, but thats okay, because the reader is required to read the text in a fast pace, for example when the exchanges occur between Lucy and Her Life, and those were brilliantly executed, for it is comical and will have one smiling or laughing to oneself, and also those around them joined in too, and they weren’t bit part players neither, they’d all had very keen interest that they showed in her life and herself, wasn’t even borderline busy-body-ish but outright nosy-body-ish. They had a lot to say about Lucy, mostly behind her back.
For reading this book, ‘The Time of My Life’ was like something out of and a cross between the ‘Friends’ television series, a cheesy-forgiveness-group-hug take on platonic relationships, and ‘Death Takes a Holiday’ a 1934 film classic, as Death learns about mortal life and love, but in book form only as in Cecelia Ahern’s ‘The Time of My Life’, that’s centred around that of one person, Lucy and Life instead. All of which the plot is acted out, in meeting with each other, as in a kind of supernatural way, similar to the tv series ‘Quantum Leap’ but with the twist, this book edition based on the female only travelling within her own lifetime, and her Life being named ‘Cosmo Brown’ in a modern version, all formed from a chick-lit genre kinda way. I think this is a book that wants to be turned into a film and trying hard to impress the movie executives in granting their digital manifested approval, as her wish come true, as we, the reader, zoom in and out of Lucy’s life.
And I say all that because there are few instances: the celebrity name dropping, and the heavy hinting of the actor, Gene Kelly being the ideal of a man because he was the working girls crumpet as “a real man” mentioned on page 220, and Clueless, X Factor, and endless others media mentionable that get a plug along the way too.
I can say all that ‘name-media-dropping’ myself, because justifiably, I’m merely reviewing, not broadcasting. The difference, is that I’m mentioning what the book is hinged upon in its context, which means that the reader can get a feel of what the book is about. Rather than trying, as the author did, to get the novel noticed about how much the character, Lucy Silchester, is up to speed on the visual media culture only for impressing purposes, that she is in fact, an adaptation of her own Life.
For when the character Lucy wants to give Life a makeover, that is her life as she looks at him like he needs one. And I think it’s because she had done everything else and run bored with her own life, supposedly at twenty-nine years old. Turning thirty, only wants money as her gifts from family and friends, most telling.
But as for her living her life, only through her messed up apartment, and moaning it wasn’t not being the same as in films and travel shows that she watches, which her Life tries very hard to point out to the character Lucy on page 376 “…they make life-changing decision in twenty-second montages. This is your Life.” That fell on deaf ears, the mute button was on and it was a commercial break, you might miss the good bit, so brew a tea and have a biscuit. For the book ran like it was exactly cinematic in printed form, for the whole four days it took me to read it like a soap opera. It give me that notion of reading a pretended lifestyle pattern: a boredom filled-out one, so lets fill it with activities that mean nothing, just so it looks good on paper so she could collect her girl guides badge, as referred to on page 179 within the book. Even though her own life protested, not much good that it done him afterall, expect look good, and handsome like in the flesh, he got the makeover in the end.
However, I have to take to task the brutal editing, the scene on the cutting room floor, except in this edited out by the computer deleting key, of the cat, of Mr Pan’s life, like it meant absolutely nothing to her, nor the book’s author apparently, it was merely there for status of capturing the attention of the ‘Higher Ground’ ploy, so’d you’d think Lucy a deep warm kind person, but all that was an act to collect deed points. Liken those people who purchase an animal merely to attract attention from the opposite sex to show outwardly a profess caring nature, but really it’s a front, and once out of sight, that animal is neglected. And it the end in this book, it was just to show Life how tough she was, (but NOT in my opinion! Low-life!), in making decisions regarding others in her life, literally, that is in getting rid of an entity that was small and dependent on humans for care. Why God bothered to make any human in charge of the animals is beyond me!! As that whole scene of the disregarded welfare, wasn’t supposed to be the emphasis of the book. Life wanted Lucy to start Living! Not get rid of her cat. I ask you. What happened to the logic?
For Lucy, the personality, gave more grief to losing her car to a scrap yard than she did a living breathing entity. And plus couldn’t even edit out her own ex-boyfriend, Blake, due to the fact him being a ‘habit’, and nothing more, to think about obsessively, so it would surprise any Reader, thinking whilst reading all this “but what would people think” wouldn’t be pleasant in hearing, just right now, as we read the turn of events regarding Lucy and Her Life in assuming we’d find her endearing to us. Some might, I grant you that. Yet her mother, Sheila, thinks the opposite of her own daughter, as she knows, from a mother’s instinct, that is, Lucy really doesn’t give a fig about what others are truly thinking, as long as Lucy appeals to them in personality and get her own way. And that’s the gust of the relationship aspect of the book.
And at the same time, Lucy, although not single-handedly, she had help in not hearing many home-truths, managed actually not to do any making of real life-changing transformation, regarding that is in turning her own life around, so to speak, in adjusting her path or being responsible, that was left aside, as was her much of moral conscience. The book began as it ended. Ambushed and under the rug, expect she most probably got that cleaned regularly.
For yet the character claimed she had loyalty, to her human friends, and if you buy that you’d buy anything, that depended upon her being Lucy the disaster only, in her child-like ways to entertain them, as her friends got on with the more serious and creative pursuits, which didn’t to me feel like a balanced give and taken relationship among them. She was supposed to be the clown among them, so wasn’t allowed to sort out her life onto an even keel. Therefore the reader was on a roll-coaster ride in a fair ground textually speaking. Thus author’s skill of writing ‘empathically’ was a cooled one, and if the author did desire to want to make this into a movie, this book surely needed to have a sympathy to the cause treatment towards Lucy’s plight, because I don’t think that it should’ve been written in the same vein as ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ by Sophia Kinsella, which deserved its superficial treatment in the film version. However, this book didn’t, it lost a potential to make a conscious statement on moral conduct of a virtue, called ‘honesty being a policy’ which is what the story overall premise was supposed to be about as to how you treat Life in general. Where did it go??
And in addition I’m also referring to the editing out of what happened in Claire’s life, of what happened to her in the end. We, the reader, don’t get to know anything. Which I found odd, because the author she made such a big deal of writing about her, to make an impact upon the reader, and showing that Lucy, begrudged the assistance her neighbour, that you are left wondering what became of her.
As Lucy used Claire, and only did so she could get girl guide points to impress her own Life with, because Lucy never really wanted to get involved in her life anyway, a point made right at the beginning of the book. The reader is left reading the outcome of Claire sinking into further depression over the loss of her one year baby son, and her life falling to pieces. And then nothing more. But does Lucy care, and should she care? Moral dilemma here. Do we, the reader, make of it what we will by such action. All of Lucy’s input was towards Claire, was that she said “I loved swings too.”, in the use of past tense, and the same as time-framed of age of Claire’s dead son. It was as if, upon reading this scene, that Lucy expected Claire to turn her affection towards her instead and suddenly and coo-coo or ahhhh at Lucy’s drama filled life, as if that going to make Claire feel any better.
Therefore, for me reading Lucy’s personality, was without doubt that of an attention-seeker, and her Life parasitic, in the same vein, as her ex-boyfriend, Blake, being narcissistic in his personality, and her sexual conquests vacuous in nature, like she had to make the effort for appearance sake, even her Life wanted to know when was the last time she saw any action.
I was left thinking when I finished reading that the personality Lucy was morally bankrupt as well because of her decisions and thought process, all she thought about was worming her way back into everybody’s affection regardless about the actual feelings that ran underneath, for she kissed it off in a blasé fashion. I kept feeling she just wanted to outsmart her own life, for the hell of it all: she tested, demanded, pussy-footed him. That is she hood-winked her own life. Sad.
But did it work. No. It became sadder still, unknown to Lucy. For there was the example of this, like that of Lucy’s own Life saying to her “…Have you been reading books again? I told you not to do that. They give you notions.”, written on page 374, but please note, Lucy only read magazines and newspaper articles, by the way, and not much else of great literature endeavours.
But then, its okay for the Lucy, the main character to have one-night stand with strangers because Lucy hasn’t been to bed with anyone for a couple of months, like that notion was okay, so what was that vice, not virtue, for what’s in that for Lucy contentment ― none, did it fulfil her, ― no ― baking food such as cakes and muffins did. But her own Life told her to forget that, would you believe it, after he made such a big drama about her not going after her dreams and what she wanted to do, from pages 209 until 213 of the book. What did matter?
Then Life turns it completely around, when Lucy says she wants to make a trade of business selling cakes, and both the Landlord and Life, after scoffing themselves silly with her baking efforts, tells her to forget such a silly notion. Some such guidance from Life, yeah ― not. So what does Lucy do in the end ― she goes off and works for the guy she had a one-night stand to do what: clean carpets. Yes you read it, correctly.
Thus after bragging about her educational background, her linguistic mastery, her adventurous nature, throughout the book, this is want it comes down to in her life. And not because she wants to that job, but is only doing so to impress upon her one-night-stand that she’s capable of a manly kind of occupation, that is she wasn’t a soft-touch, hapless or kooky in her ways, from a relationship that was purely a sexual conquest to being with, and the chance of that suriviving in terms of getting his Life together? He won, she lost out, in her own life but she didn’t see that it was okay not to be the fun-filled person all the time, and mundane doesn’t have to be taken to extreme. Some such Life, I write and say sardonically.
Now what was that about commitment towards her OWN life, that was rattled on about for most the book, regarding the ‘Time of Her Life’ yep, like that really happened, its was more the TV Reality show of a ‘wanna-be’ more than likely, because it’s an easier choice, the promenade journey of Life.
“It’s business and pleasure,” Life said with a big smile so that the lack of information didn’t seem at all rude. I needed to learn from him. Little pieces of information were better than lies.” (page 195, ‘The Time of My Life’ by Cecelia Ahern)