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 dark and 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. And 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… (Summary via Goodreads.com)
I’ve been a fan of Dawn French ever since watching her hilarious show, The Vicar of Dibley. (If you want to watch it, it’s currently on Netflix. So funny! And if you haven’t seen it, you might remember Dawn French as the Fat Lady in the painting that guards Gryffindor in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.) So when I found out that she has also started a writing career, I knew I had to check her books out. Although Dawn French has written a memoir which I really want to read, this contemporary fiction book made its way into my hands first.
Oh Dear Silvia is a quick read. It’s darker than I expected (Dawn French is a comedian after all, and the cover blurbs made the book out to be a comedy), but it is still a bit funny. Silvia is in a coma for the entire book, so we get to see her life and actions from the viewpoint of her ex-husband, current lover, family, nurse, and housekeeper rather than from her own. Each character has been affected differently by Silvia’s strong personality, but as we go through the story, Silvia’s darkest secret is revealed and many of her actions start to make sense.
My biggest complaint is that the dialects were a bit much. There is a Jamaican character and an Indonesian character, and the written dialects straddle the line between funny and offensive. I’m never a big fan of dialect in books, but this was more bothersome than usual.
Oh Dear Silvia is an easy read that’s both fun and dark, with a twist that’s interesting but not overly shocking. If you’re a Dawn French fan who decides to read this book, go in realizing that it’s not going to provide constant laughs.
Rating: Good but Forgettable