Confessions of a Demented Housewife by Niamh Greene, a book review

Confessions Of A Demented Housewife is what I call a toilet book: you leave it in the bathroom and pick it up for five or ten minutes at a time. It doesn’t require massive amounts of brain power, it’s quite funny, but neither is there any compelling reason to read it from cover to cover in one sitting.

What’s it about? Well, it’s the second installment in the life of Susie Hunt, a Dublin housewife who doesn’t appear to have much going on in between her ears. She’s as shallow as an issue of Heat magazine (of which she’s obviously an avid reader), aspiring throughout the book to be the best mates of a Hollywood wife and alternately deluding herself that she’s due a television career.

In fact, much of Susie’s life revolves around her delusions – about her children, about her husband, about her own ability to become a minor celebrity. The greatest contrast is between Susie and her friend Louise: while Louise eventually adapts to her pregnancy and works hard to regain her figure, nuture her child and start a new line of maternity wear, Susie is from the get-rich-quick school of thought. She just wants the rewards without the hard work.

There are funny moments in Confessions Of A Demented Housewife, but for me there was a worrying subtext. I know a few housewives who are borderline Susie Hunts. Is there a trend toward vapid, selfish parenting? Do the mothers who come out of the workplace with good intentions end up drowning in a sea of celebrity magazines, self-help material and lonliness? And while Niamh Greene writes the story with a great deal of humour, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a cautionary undercurrent to the story. Maybe I’m imagining that.

I’m keenly aware that I disliked the character of Susie, but overall the book is an enjoyable, light-hearted romp through married life. You’ll enjoy Susie’s husband having a near-death experience, then deciding to quit his job and follow a career as a chef. The celebrity wife, Angelica Law, is another horrible character, taking advantage of Susie’s deluded ambitions, using her to mask an affair, and even using her country house.

Overall, a great throwaway novel. There are a few smiles to be gained from Niamh Greene’s writing, but for me, hating the lead character was a deal-breaker. And frankly, having her end up pregnant at the end of the story was a bad ending. Because let’s face it, the one thing Susie wasn’t wonderful at during the story was being a devoted wife and mother. Why would one more baby make a difference?

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