A few weeks ago, I went to see Clare Mackintosh speak at our local Waterstones. Clare Mackintosh is one of my favourite authors. She wrote the brilliant I Let You Go and the almost as brilliant I See You and Let Me Lie. But she wasn’t talking about her fantastic thrillers at Watersones, she was talking about her new book, A Cotswold Family Life. This is a collection of writing about family life in the Cotswolds (it does exactly what it says on the tin).
Now, I’ll be honest, I don’t like reading collections of writing. The last one I read, by a comedian I really like, was really hard work.
But Clare read a few extracts and I was immediately taken in. These little stories were so relatable and always had a funny punchline at the end. And do you know what else? They sounded like blogposts from an old school parenting blog – the sort that I still like best (and try to write), the sort that tells little stories. I mentioned this to Clare when I spoke to her and, would you believe it, that’s pretty much what they were! She started out as a parent blogger and her blog was picked up by Cotswold Life magazine, which asked her to write a monthly column. The book is a collection of these columns.
So I decided to buy a copy of the book, despite my aversion to collections of writing. And I loved it!
Clare’s writing is so good, it makes me want to weep. I know it’s good from the psychological thrillers, but apologies to my fellow parent bloggers out there, she puts us all to shame.
Every story is full of warmth and humour and is completely relatable. Technically I live in the Cotswolds, but my Cotswolds is a rather more urban version. Mine is not the Cotswolds of muddy hill walks with a dog. These things are just about recognisable to me as something that other people round here do, but you don’t have to live in the Cotswolds and shop in Waitrose to relate to this book. Because Clare’s family face the kind of stuff we all face…
There’s the dilemma over how much the tooth fairy should pay out, knowing what exactly to do with the endless primary school art, the pointless things that keep us awake in the middle of the night and the triumph at finding the last space in the car park.
I wasn’t sure whether this book was really for me, but I absolutely loved it and I think any parent would love it too.
As she has already been paid for the columns, Clare donated her advance for the book to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford because she says, without the hospital, she wouldn’t have a family at all.