Oh dear Silvia, the new book by Dawn French is a fantastic page turner that I just couldn’t put down! What a read.
Silvia is in hospital in a coma and there she stays throughout the majority of the novel. Much of the story is revealed through the thoughts and actions of Silvia’s bedside visitors. Through all the exchanges that take place within the hospital room Suite 5 we are drip fed titbits of information that provide us with a picture of who Silvia actually is – or to be more precise, who she actually was prior to ending up in a coma. What a clever way to tell a story… Dawn French is a genius, but then again I have always known this and through seeing her on TV and recent interviews talking about her new book, I decided to buy the kindle ebook in the first place. If you buy a copy of this book on my recommendation, I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed! Go for it!
I thought becoming acquainted with the characters in this way was actually making me more hungry for all the details as Silvia’s life gradually took shape in front of me. I found myself demanding to know how she ended up in hospital and as the pieces of the jigsaw begin to fit together you find yourself making assumptions accusing the characters as each one of them visit Silvia at her bedside. The phrase “You did it!” happened frequently. It’s delicious! You’re eavesdropping during an intimate family setting and you feel somehow it’s all wrong. Naughty but nice!
The cast of characters where great with lots of humour thrown into the shaping of Silvia’s south east asian cleaner and her intensive care nurse Winifred. I became so used to reading the Winifred pages that it wasn’t long before my forced pronunciations soon took a more natural flow – I feel I’m almost an expert in pigeon Jamaican/English.
On the subject of Winifred, as with the other characters, you discover some background that makes you warm to her even more particularly concerning the matter of her bullied son. The way this was handled was a masterpiece and I felt there was a real triumph for the much harangued school bullied over the bullies and the system that allows it to go on happening. Well said, Dawn! Having lost my mother recently whilst on an intensive care ward and all of us being looked after and being treated with so much care and respect I felt the character of Winnie was a tribute to those wonderful nursing staff.
Other characters included Silvia’s ex-husband Ed, her girlfriend Cat, her sister Jo, her daughter Cassie and her grand-daughter.
There are moments in the book that made me flinch somewhat and I won’t go into the details for fear of spoiling the storyline for new readers and by contrast there were moments when I laughed so much. There were tears too but overall you should have a thoroughly enjoyable experience reading Oh Dear Silvia! I’m a fan now and intend to seek out others such as A Tiny Bit of Marvellous and Dear Fatty by our nation’s beloved Ms French.