Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Spring 2002

Around the Houses, by Amanda Boulter

reviewed by Allison Mosley

The publicity on the sleeve of this book reads: “Amanda Boulter has written a funny, telling urban tale about a neighbourhood where different identities, sexualities and communities generate conflict, humour and wacky situations in equal measure ... These are tales of the city to make you shake, weep and giggle out loud.”

And the publisher’s press release states that this first in a “comic series of novels” is “... set to become as addictive as Tales of the City”.

I can say many things about this book, but in no shape or form does this book resemble Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. Amanda Boulter’s book makes me think: Alan Ayckbourn meets the TV sitcom Gimme Gimme Gimme. I doubt this first book will spawn a series.

Around the Houses tells a pleasant enough tale that does no doubt resonate with the true lives of some gays and lesbians. One of the main characters, Anna, is expecting a baby; her lover is a woman and the child’s father is gay. Much of the rest of the tale is spin-off stories from the main plot. All of Anna’s friends are right-on, politically correct people. The “bad guys” are one-dimensional reactionaries. To add to the “farcical” feel of this novel, Shirley, a neighbour of Anna’s, has moved to London from the “provinces” – with more predictable results.

Amanda Boulter writes clearly and possibly this book might find favour with a younger readership – say early to mid teens. The shame is that because the theme of the book is “upfront gay”, the author is unlikely to be able to market into that audience, which might have relished its easygoing style.

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Created : Sunday, 2002-05-05 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
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