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Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French

Oh Dear Silvia (edition 2012)

by Dawn French

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1831164,645 (3.26)15
Title:Oh Dear Silvia
Authors:Dawn French
Info:Michael Joseph Ltd (2012), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French

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A woman is in a coma after a fall from a balcony. The story is compromised of the visits of her ex husband, her housekeeper, her best friend, her eccentric sister and her estranged daughter. Through their visits we catch a glimpse of the real woman. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
A woman is in a coma after a fall from a balcony. The story is compromised of the visits of her ex husband, her housekeeper, her best friend, her eccentric sister and her estranged daughter. Through their visits we catch a glimpse of the real woman. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
A moving tale of Silvia's life falling apart, told through the visits of various friends and family to her bedside in intensive care after she has mysteriously fallen off her balcony. This is not at all what I was expecting from a comedienne like Dawn French, however, it was brilliant. The characters are very well written and the mystery draws you in. Thoroughly recommended. ( )
  eclecticdodo | Jun 30, 2015 |
Trawling the library shelves for my first audiobook, I really wasn’t sure what to pick. An author I had read and trusted? Someone completely new? A familiar genre? Something completely different? Then I hit upon Dawn French’s Oh Dear Silvia. I liked Dear Fatty and A Tiny Bit Marvellous, plus I always enjoy watching The Vicar of Dibley even if I’ve seen the episode on twenty times, so I decided on this. I can’t remember why I never got around to buying Oh Dear Silvia when it came out, but that’s inconsequential now. Plus, the audiobook advertised itself as being a full cast recording with Dawn French herself. I didn’t know what that meant, but it sounded very impressive. So armed with 9 CDs, I listened to this book over two weeks, which contained one huge traffic jam and somewhere to go nearly everyday day.

It turned out that ‘full cast recording’ means that there is a number of readers/actors (I’m not certain of the terminology) in the book. Dawn is the narrator and it was lovely to listen to her voice as I’m already quite familiar with it. The book is divided up into chapters and different actors play the characters in the book. As the book centres on Silvia, who is in ‘Coma Suite Number 5’ (read: ICU Bed 5, suite sounds very posh) after a nasty fall, each chapter is a character interacting with Silvia. All the characters had different voices and accents, which made distinguishing between them simple. There’s Winnie, Silvia’s nurse (and an excellent one) who is from Jamaica and fusses around Silvia as though she could hear her. There’s husband Ed, who reminded me of Hugh in The Vicar of Dibley – he was a little mumbly at times, but the epitome of the bumbling Englishman. Sister Jo is full of good wishes for her sister, but comes across as off centre and annoying (animal therapy in an ICU?) There’s best friend Cat, who talks in a rapid, no nonsense voice – yet reveals more and more truths as the book unfolds. Tia, Silvia’s housekeeper from Indonesia, regularly visits with gifts for Silvia and tales of Silvia’s things she’s sold on eBay to ‘even’ the workload. (Plus, Tia’s accent makes ‘Mrs Chute’ sound rather, um, different). Finally, there are children Cassie who hasn’t had a relationship with Silvia since she became pregnant with Willow as a teenager and her son (whose name I can’t remember), who left to become a soldier and doesn’t care what happens to his mum. All the characters were played very well with elements of humour. There are some stereotypes involved, but I chose to look past them in this character driven book. It’s all the differences in the characters that made me more intrigued on how they would interact while focused on one thing – Silvia.

As an audiobook, I think Oh Dear Silvia was excellent. The plot was fast enough to stop me drifting away and the changing characters in each chapter kept things fresh. There were several ‘OMG’ moments revealed casually by a character talking to Silvia, which made the reasons for her being in a coma all the more intriguing. I also found that my opinion changed of Silvia from sympathy, to disgust and then…well, that would spoil the ending. The audiobook also had some nice touches – the sound of the respirator in Silvia’s room and Winnie singing.

I found the ending quite emotive, even though I guessed what was going to happen. I think it had more impact for me being spoken rather than reading it on the page. The book also taught me not to judge immediately on first experiences, as all the characters revealed themselves to be different in the end from their introduction. It shows there can be a lot more simmering under the surface of a family than what others see. I felt Dawn French revealed this in a way that was both humorous and respectful. I think, by listening to this book rather than reading it, I got more out of it. Listening to the characters in an almost theatre-like fashion brought them to life.

Thanks Dawn. You’ve definitely switched me off the radio and onto audiobooks.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | Nov 8, 2014 |
Oh my.
I've read Dawn French's first book, "A Tiny Bit Marvellous", which made me howl out loud throughout and which was seriously funny and a tiny bit shocking.
So when I picked up "Oh Dear Silvia", I expected more of the same - something light and humorous, something to make me laugh and forget.
Instead what I got was the tale of a complex woman, one misunderstood by almost everyone in her life, told through the visitors to her hospital room, where she lies in a coma.
French masterfully takes us through Sylvia's life. We change our view of her and the people around her as the book progresses, and by the end, we wish all could have been explained, made right.
I wished for a little less use of dialect in the nurse looking after Silvia, though I have to admit the housekeepers malapropisms (due to her sons teaching her the wrong words in English) were hilarious. A little dialect goes a long way, and in some parts it's too heavy for reading pleasure.
But I forgave all as this story winds to the end. If any of you have been with a seriously ill relative, sat by their bedside, tried to reach them, you will find this book calls to your heart.
Highly recommended. A thoughtful read and one I wished could have gone on longer. Thank you, Ms. French. If any of you have been with a seriously ill relative, sat by their bedside, tried to reach them, you will find this book calls toyour heart. ( )
  Dabble58 | Jan 1, 2014 |
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Who is in Coma Suite Number 5? A matchless lover? A supreme egotist? A selfless martyr? A bad mother? A cherished sister? A selfish wife? All of these. For this is Silvia Shute, who has always done exactly what she wants, until now, when her life suddenly, shockingly stops. Her past holds a terrible secret, and now that she is unconscious in a hospital bed, her constant stream of visitors are set to uncover the mystery of her broken life. Meanwhile she must lie there, victim of the beloveds, the borings, the babblings and the plain bonkers. Like it or not, the truth is about to pay Silvia a visit. Again, and again and again...… (more)

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