William Sutcliffe - Whatever Makes You Happy (3 stars)

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William Sutcliffe - Whatever Makes You Happy

(Bloomsbury)

FAMILY COMEDY

William Sutcliffe, Edinburgh-based spouse to Maggie O’Farrell and schoolmate of Ali G, is still best known for his 1997 coming of age debut Are You Experienced? Eleven years and three more books later, his fifth novel, Whatever Makes You Happy, is still trying to come to terms with the process of growing up. It’s only the youngsters that got old, as this tale of three shiftless thirtysomething men whose lives are invaded by their mothers for a week of live-in life coaching attests.

It’s unashamedly aimed straight at the heart of the Hornby/Parsons market, but that’s only a negative if you don’t share a similarly middle-class viewpoint to those involved. Sutcliffe’s prose is crisp and made to be gulped down, a fluency with his characters is capable enough that more than one generation will find someone to relate to, and his situations are gently but truthfully amusing. The film deal is lined up already, the seat on Richard and Judy’s sofa awaits.

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