What would happen if you lived your life according to yes? If every time you would typically say ‘no,’ you turned the answer on its head and said ‘yes.’ Would you be happier? Get yourself into trouble? Break the law, or live with satisfaction?
Would you turn a harmless flirtation into something more complex? Would you allow decadence to make way for gluttony? Would you become broke? Or perhaps more wealthy because you took a risk. Could saying ‘yes’ all the time possibly give you a true sense of freedom and contentment? Would it allow you to be who you truly seek to be?
In Dawn French’s new book, our heroine, 38 year old Rosie Kitto, decides to live her life examining this exact concept. It’s a new approach for this eccentric and vivacious character. She has been scarred by saying and hearing ‘no’ for a long time, and looking to heal, she takes a plunge and moves away from her home country and some old ways of thinking.
She moves to the centre of wealth, Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Where the filthy rich hob-nob and exist with decorum and class. Where behaviour, appearance and sophistication matter. It’s a dangerous environment for a quirky, outspoken and wind-swept Brit, wearing bright red brogues.
Employed as a Nanny to the Wilder-Bingham grandchildren, Rosie encounters her exact opposite in Glenn Wilder-Bingham – the family matriarch. She is emotionless, clinical and coiffed. Cold and judgemental in her interactions with the family, and outright hostile to the new Nanny, Rosie.
The dynamic between polar opposites Rosie & Glenn is entertaining enough, but then add curious twin grandsons, an alcoholic divorcee hiding his own secrets, and a likable grandfather with a cheeky streak and the plot becomes pretty gripping.
This is a super easy read, with great pace, laugh out loud humour, and sometimes squeamish moments where Rosie chooses ‘yes’ whilst you are screaming ‘no!’ Yet even as she takes some unthinkable risks (particularly of the shagging nature) and is somewhat irritating in her laissez-faire attitude, she remains unwaveringly likeable.
There are some really funny and honest moments between Rosie and the twin ‘chaps’ which reminded me of my own parenting fails. Like when you know you shouldn’t laugh, but when ‘for fucks sake Mummy’ is just too hilarious coming out of a three year olds tiny mouth. French develops her young characters with particular finesse.
This is a perfect summer read, and Dawn French is fast becoming one of my favourite voices in comedic and dramatic fiction.
In short: Yes!