Read this if…you’re looking for a light, laugh out loud read on your commute to work.
“You’re seriously ill”, my doctor looked at me bemused, and with that I packed a couple of books and a bag full of meds to be collected by my parents who had come to the rescue. I’m not good at being sick, and I’m even worse at being ‘off sick’. Even when I was being sent to A&E by a second doctor three days later, I couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt that I should be at my desk, or at the very least working from home.
It wasn’t until I was told that I would be taking another week off that I decided to actually rest up and figure out what this getting better thing was all about. So, I stopped worrying about missing work and all the things I had to get done, and instead I took my antibiotics and got stuck in to Lauren Berry’s novel, ‘Living The Dream’.
I bought this book at my favourite store in Stockbridge this August, but it’s not the kind of book I’d usually choose. It’s very much set in the ‘real world’ amidst all the mundane things that exist in a person’s typical day to day life. The words on the front cover describe it as ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary for the millennial set’, two things which should have turned me off the book completely – ‘Bridget Jones’ and ‘millennial’. But, something lured me to read it, and I’m very glad that I did.
Set in London, ‘Living The Dream’ is a witty satire about the struggles of two creative women, Emma Derringer and Clementine Twist, as they attempt to define their careers and stay afloat financially in their party-hard world. Emma is unsatisfied hovering somewhere on the corporate ladder of a power-word-happy advertising agency; while her best mate Clem returns from NYC to sit back and wait for her screenwriting dream to come true.
Of the two characters, I found Emma to be the most relatable and likable. Her setting was entertaining, with everything from a corporate boss and office birthdays to passive aggressive rules and email blunders. On the other hand, Clem’s character had a sense of entitlement that I didn’t enjoy, whether it was begging her brother for yet more money or sitting back and waiting for people to pick up her scripts, her world was ultimately less satisfying than Emma’s. I felt like very little was being achieved in Clem’s story, and her relationship with men was at times alarming (I’m thinking especially of the scene with the misogynist in the restaurant).
Lauren Berry’s plot moves at a fast pace, and this book is enjoyable as a light read. I might have liked it more had the story explored Emma’s experiences in greater depth, expanding on some of the later scenes such as the night at the hotel and Emma’s big decision that was so easily resolved by a co-worker. It may also have been exciting to learn more about Yasmin’s life, the middle friend who was central to the novel’s few plot twists. The attitudes of Clem and Emma to Yasmin was interesting, especially as their views changed throughout the story. I think this was an important thread to include, as often successful women can be so easily judged and picked apart by other people.
Playful, uncomplicated and digestible, ‘Living The Dream’ is the perfect book for an entertaining read and some very relatable scenes. It didn’t give me the inspiring ending that I was hoping for, but it did make me very glad to be working outside a corporate setting!