Thursday, April 17, 2014

Diary of an Unsmug Married by Polly James

Proof-copy502 pages.
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction.
Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins) February 13th 2014.
Source: The publishers PR company in return for an unbiased review.
First Sentence: Max has only gone and organised a surprise party for my so-called 'big' birthday tonight.
Review Quote: 'A properly good writer' India Knight.

My Opinion: No threat to established diarists.

It was not until after I accepted an invitation to read this novel that I learnt that this début novel has evolved from a blog by the author's alter ego, protagonist of the 'Dairy of an Unsmug Married', Molly Bennett. My reasoning for wanting to read and review this were, as a fan of two other dairy characters Bridget Jones and Adrian Mole, it appealed to me. Well I did not dislike this I did not love it either, the heroine's boring career as a lowly paid research worker put paid to that, maybe if I had already been a fan of the blog and more of a political creature it may have appealed to me more. 

The diary covers the period May to November 2010 during which Molly reveals to her diary, her insecurities as she imagines she is contending with a mid-life crisis. Molly is married to Max, who gives her cause for concern, thanks to their next door neighbour flirting with him. Then there are Molly and Max's two teenage children, Josh and Connie, constantly bickering with each other. Her parent's and sister also feature in the dairy as she wonders why everyone seems to have a more exciting life than her. Much of the diary covers her working life, no surprise as it takes up the largest part of her life. She works as a researcher for an MP and both colleagues, various constituents and political figures feature. Life seems fairly mundane until an old school friend starts flirting with her via Facebook and the reader has to question if Molly is going to act completely out of character or not. Well does she, I am not telling!

Plenty of interesting and amusing situations occur during the six months covered by the diary, which gave me plenty of laughs, but just did not quite meet my expectations. 'Diary of an Unsmug Married' was an easy and enjoyable read even if I would have personally preferred the diary to include less about Molly's work.  A new diarist is indeed in town as the back cover of the novel states, but I do not think she is a threat to the established ones yet, maybe if she retires from her political job it will be different. I might read more of her diaries if she does!

Will probably appeal to readers that enjoy diary format novels, such as those written by Sue Townsend and Helen Fielding.

Author Profile

Polly James was born in Wales, but currently lives in East Anglia, where she works as a writer and editor. She is married and has two adult children.

She would probably still be making excuses not to write, if one of her ex-employers (an MP) hadn’t told her that she should be a novelist, instead of earning her living by writing letters for him to sign. Polly took his advice, handed in her notice, and went back to college to study for a degree in Creative Writing. 

Three years later, she started to blog and tweet as Molly Bennett, and found her voice. 

She also became addicted to the feed-back she got from readers – whether in emails saying how much they loved the characters, or in tweets about lines that had made them laugh – and she was amazed by how much people seemed to care about what would happen to Molly next.

Polly’s first novel, “Diary of an Unsmug Married” is an attempt to answer that question, and her second book will also feature Molly and her family. (Polly still keeps a diary, too, though she has no intention of publishing that.)

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the authors publisher and the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.


  1. Ah. Sounds like a read while travel.

  2. Not sure this would appeal to me either. I thought Bridget Jones' Diary was amazing.

    1. It was the politics that spoilt it for me and not a patch on Bridget Jones either I did not think.


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