Book: 320 pages (Hardcover and eBook)
Publisher: Harper Collins (1st October 2020)
From the Sunday Times Bestselling author of So Lucky, comes a bold, brilliant, and totally hilarious book about life in lockdown and 2020
I have always loved Dawn’s fiction work and when I saw she had written about life in lockdown, I knew I had to buy it.
I follow Dawn on Instagram and I have always loved her honestly about life – she doesn’t shy away from posting when things are a bit rubbish. I had seen her funny drunk (high?) instastories of the karaoke nights with her husband (actor Chris O’Dowd), her posts about her cockroach infestations and her very funny baking fails. I have also always loved her strong, close female friendships and how much she champions and defends those she loves. It was her who was my first thought when Caroline Flack so tragically ended her life earlier this year – knowing they had been such close friends. I knew Dawn would touch on her grief in this book but this book isn’t about Caroline. If you are looking for the “inside story” on Caroline, the run up to her death, the funeral etc then, firstly, you absolute ghoul of a person and, secondly, this isn’t the book for you. At several points in the book Dawn writes “that isn’t my story to tell”. Quite right.
The book starts in March, Dawn has just returned from Caroline’s funeral and the world is starting to become a stranger place. Slowly, lockdown is happening (the borders literally close behind her as she gets back from the UK) and Dawn isn’t feeling too great. As the title is “life in pieces”, the book is split into ten different “pieces” rather than chapters. Each one addresses a different area of Dawn’s life – her parenting, friendships, pets etc. It is written in diary format but then at the end there is a longer monologue (for want of a better description) around that topic.
As always, Dawn’s honestly and humour shine through. I especially loved her advice to her sons for when they are older: “Wash your willy before you get a blowjob” isn’t something I can ever visualise myself saying (maybe I will post screenshots of these pages on my Insta in the hope my sons see them….) but I did laugh and I can totally imagine Dawn having this conversation with her sons. The love between her and Chris comes through – but, again, this isn’t a book about their relationship – and he comes across as a really loving, caring partner and hands-on dad. Note: If you are offended by drug taking, this might not be the book for you – weed is legal in LA and Dawn is partial to the odd CBD gummy.
The book takes you on a journey through lockdown LA as Dawn experiences the highs and lows of lockdown, tries to rationalise her grief, looks for ‘signs’ from Caroline, talks about racism and is exasperated by the advice of the President (but this NOT a political, anti-Trump book full of political rants).
I really enjoyed this book. The events were true and were very recent and, for me, I enjoyed reading someone else’s experience of lockdown – interestingly seen through the eyes of someone in another country and someone famous. I would like to read this again in 5 or 10 years to ‘remember what life was like then’ and it really made me wish I had kept a diary of my own lockdown experiences – other than just photographs of glasses of gin or cakes and screenshots of Zoom calls.
I don’t usually share screenshots or images from books but this, for me, really touched a nerve and I ended up sending it to all my girlfriends:
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