The Trouble with Ally * Sheila Norton

I’m forty-nine this weekend. And that was the first lie.

So, if you’re a middle-aged woman, approaching your 50th birthday and you’re in the mood for a “fun” book, this is the one for you!

Ally is a woman who has been run down by her environment: she drives a crappy car which keeps breaking down, has two grown up girls living at home but not contributing anything towards the room&board fee and a sickly demanding old mother. Add an ex husband who ran off with a 28-year old woman and married her and a job where the receptionist is screwing the boss.

When she encounters a patch of bad luck, she is faced with a warning from her job that she will be dismissed if she shows up late again, a massive fee of over £100 for treating her ailing cat and her mother wants to go to Majorca with a man she’d been secretly dating.

At first, I sympathised a little with this single mother who seems to struggle every day and then I thought – she’s not the nicest of people either way.. She’s confrontational and plain nasty with her ex’s new wife, she calls the receptionist at her work “Snotty Nosed Nicola” and leaves barbed comments under her breadth when she chats with her; she also does not make her daughters do anything around the house. She has a victim mentality and likes to moan at people about how stressed she is and how life isn’t fair.

I personally hate these type of people the most! But I read on to see if Ally has at least other redeeming qualities… In what’s the rest of the book, she lies about her age, she takes 3 weeks off work calling in sick (with work-related stress!) and goes and visits her hippie sister in Cornwall. She lies some more, declaring herself 39-years old and then tries to bed a young man and live a life of perceived luxury.

The book is designed to let you think “women still have a life after 50” but instead was so terrible and filled with adverbs to the brink I had to put it down into the burn pile.

“Made me bloody cry again! Who needs men, anyway? I had my daughters to care for me, didn’t I? With their help, I’d survive another crisis and live to tell the tale… wouldn’t I? With their help and Paul’s money”

PS: I would have loved if this book was written from two standpoints

  • on one side, you have Ally complaining and asking her ex-husband for money for either the sick cat, the broken down car, calling the new wife “wide-eyed cow” and letting her two daughter and cantankerous mother rule her.
  • on the other side, you have Paul, Ally’s ex husband, who is constantly dragged back to her aid, who can’t move on with his life because his ex won’t stop nagging him, and him thinking he owes her something for the 10 years of marriage, jumps to her aid, creating tensions in his new household.

I would have read the hell out of THAT book. I would have even loved to hear the kids voices, how looking at their stressed-out mother meant nothing and how their do-not-engage attitude worked in other places of their lives.


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