Join Allison Pearson to talk about I THINK I LOVE YOU - our April Book of the Month - on Tuesday 19 April, 8-9pm

(67 Posts)

Our April Book of the Month will have you swooning, mooning and kissing your pillow for practice. I THINK I LOVE YOU by Allison Pearson (author of the seminal bestseller I DON'T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT) is a homage to the teenage crush, and the maelstrom of adolescent emotion that goes with it. Witty, observant and moving, this beautifully nostalgic novel also explores female friendship and the mother/daughter relationship. Whether you dreamt of being Mrs Cassidy, Mrs Le Bon or Mrs Adam Ant, it's a book that'll keep you smiling all day.

You can find out more about the book here.

We are delighted that Allison will be joining us on Tuesday 19 April, 8-9 pm, for the bookclub discussion - look forward to seeing you all there...

AllisonPearson Sat 16-Apr-11 13:29:04

Dear Yotty Totty, I can see why you think movie of I Don't Know How She Does It should be set in its native England, but I feel the story is so universal it works equally well in the States. You get about one day's maternity leave over there...
I went to the set in NYC and met Sarah Jessica Parker, who is playing Kate. I'm glad that she's in the right age bracket to play a harassed mum and I'm glad she has three young kids of her own so she knows something about trying to go to work after a broken night. She said, even though she was a "privileged" mum she loved the book and wanted to do it justice for all the mums out there.
More chat on Tuesday night.

ExpatAgain Sun 17-Apr-11 11:05:12

what can beat the M&S mince-pie beating episode in the dead of the night to make them look home-made?! So loved and related to IDKHSDI, almost daren't read the nothers for fear of disappointment!

80sMum Sun 17-Apr-11 16:22:08

I very much enjoyed "I think I love you." It took me right back to 1972 and how it felt to be an awkward teenager, scared of real boys and 'in love' with pretend ones. The author captures very well the dynamics of a group of 1970s teenage girls; the bitchiness; the strict pecking order; the desperation to be included etc. Very good job, Alison!

A quick reminder to put any advance questions here - don't forget that you can ask Allison about previous books, the career of a writer, anything you fancy. So even if you haven't finished/read I THINK I LOVE YOU, feel free to pitch in...

gazzalw Mon 18-Apr-11 08:47:42

Think this is very amusing as I have a DD (5) who is already obsessed with Justin Bieber and it really makes me think of girls having crushes on David Cassidy, Bay City Rollers, Osmonds etc.... all those years ago!
Sadly DW didn't get a copy but will have to get her one - she very much enjoyed "I Don't Know How She Does It!" - particularly the mince pies cheat!

MrsKwazii Mon 18-Apr-11 10:56:34

I watched my sisters be totally obsessed with Duran Duran and Wham, I used to love defacing George Michael, especially calendars. Am suprised my sisters didn't kill me TBH grin

I have to admit that teenybop crushes passed me by, possibly due to seeing how silly my sisters were about it, but I could totally relate to the book's depiction of teenage girls and how fraught relationships between them can be. I also laughed out loud at Gillian's 'legendary bedroom' as I'm sure that everyone knew of someone who seemed to be living the teenage dream while the rest of us made do with our Mum's idea of what a teenage girl should have.

I enjoyed the teenage/David Cassidy magazine sections, I found the older year parts a little formulaic though.

Anyway, my question for Alison is: How much of the teenage sections are autobiographical? And, if you did draw on your own experiences, is there anything there that really made you wince as you recalled it?

Adair Mon 18-Apr-11 12:37:39

I too have read IDKHSDI a hundred times. First (possibly?) pre-kids or while I had one, now have three kids and each time I find something new that chimes. I consider the mum in the book a 'privileged mum' tbh. I also find so much of what she does a bit 'silly' (the mince pies) as it doesn't fit with my normal, non-aspirational life I guess.

Anyway, agree am finding this one hard to read. Possibly too young for all the references. They feel a bit self-conscious to me, though I might not think that if it was Chesney Hawkes/NKOTB and Space Raiders. Not sure. Also find the main character a bit too self-deprecating. Feels a bit done-before. Didn't Tony Parsons write a book that was similar to the Bill character too?
Er... no questions yet! Will finish by tomorrow hopefully...

Oh, I know. You mention 'stroking the bridge of his nose so his eyes shut like a roller-blind' (I paraphrase). It works and is a brilliant tip THANK YOU. Any other genius sleep tips?!

Haven't read the new book but have just this minute finished IDKHSDI for the first time and thought it was great. I don't know ifbit is just that I identified with it or whether it was the great writing, but every time I put the book down I felt a little bit stressed and was thinking 'what have I got to do next?!' a la Kate Reddy!

Although on maternity leave with no.2 I'm technically a working mum, albeit in a family friendly part time public sector job. However, even with that and a very egalitarian husband I still find my head swimming with all the things I have to do, order Internet groceries; get something out of the freezer for tea; or else construct a tea out of pasta, eggs, half a tub of creme fraiche and a courgette; fill in census (it was 3 weeks late); change address on driving licence (moved 9 months ago -going to get a fine if caught!); put the washing on the line (it's been in the machine for two days and is going to need doing again); get some shoes for dd1 so she doesn't live in wellies.... You get the picture. What would be your best recommendation to stay on top of it? Or is that the Holy Grail?

gazzalw Tue 19-Apr-11 09:55:44

Hi Allison
"I Don't Know How She Does It" so much epitomises the dilemma women have with work/life balance. This juggling act which women so competently (but often to their own detriment) manage, twixt family and highly dynamic careers. Do you really think women can have it all or should strive to do so? We are increasingly coming to understand that being an uber-Mummy is just not feasible but what are the alternatives....?

Adair Tue 19-Apr-11 10:30:20

Hey, read more today and am getting into it! Will post more later if i get a chance. Like that the protagonist is standing up for herself a bit and all the cello stuff is really nice to read... eg 'I think i love you.'

champagnesupernova Tue 19-Apr-11 17:52:14

ooh what was sjp like?

matekiddleton Tue 19-Apr-11 18:21:05

Allison, I haven't read your new book yet, but I would like to thank you for the bit about 'Toddler Taming' and how well it works with male bosses. I thank you. (from 'Idkhsdi') smile

matekiddleton Tue 19-Apr-11 18:24:00

And if recent photographs of you are current, I think you look lovely. Never got SJP, except that she married Ferris. Couldn't you play yourself?

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 19-Apr-11 19:33:32

Hello Allison
Am annoyed as have to go out tonight and am in haste as obv running late
I'm on mat leave but still RUSHING rushing rushing!!(must remember etc)

Just wanted to say I loved both the books that I've read recently - ITILY and IDKHSDI.

Really enjoyed the Cassidy parts and so many trusims in there- loved the feeling (Don't know if the cellist part is autobiographical but you should watch this sketch about Pachelbel if so)

How do you remember everything?
Any tips you'd like to share with a flustered mum of 2? (still getting used to the 2 part even though he's 5 months old!!)

Thanks

AllisonPearson Tue 19-Apr-11 19:46:36

OK, I am trying this out, aided by my technical assistant. Welcome Evie, 15-year-old daughter. Well, there has to be SOME payback for giving birth to them...
In reply to rookiemater, do I think conditions for women have improved in the 10 years since I Don't Know How She Does It came out? Good question!, says Evie.
I think quite a lot has changed, though much remains to do. It is easier to mention you are a mum - or dad - who has responsibilities for kids and/or elderly relatives. This is no longer the love that dare not speak its name, unless you're in Mergers and Acquisitions.
I think the Blair government did a lot to entrench better maternity rights, which there is no rowing back from. The idea of "work-life balance" has entered the national conversation, with even political leaders paying at least lip service to the idea of trying to be there for wife/kids. I interviewed David Cameron today and he told me he bathed Florence last night. No PM of any previous generation would have thought that assertion was a vote winner, let alone done it! I don't know if Dave threw baby out with the bathwater, but at least he tries..
HOWEVER, we are stuck with the basic template. Women have babies, babies need mothers. A lot of work/professions still think mother is a creature "lacking commitment". The revolution in working promised by new technology has not materialised. Bloody ridiculous in my view, since it is possible to respond to email from school drop-off and also very possible to work at night after the small persons are in bed, or even to take part in chats on mumsnet!
The really sticky problem is on and off ramps. I know so many women of such great skills and character who can't get back onto the career ladder because - god forbid - they have invested some time raising the next generation. Fab organisation called Women Like Us can help there.
Sorry, this is a book not a message. GREAT QUESTION, rookiemater!

AllisonPearson Tue 19-Apr-11 19:57:21

Mrs Kwazii, how much of the teenage sections are autobiographical? Well, I was once a 13-year-old girl like Petra. In 1974. Every friend I have said, "I wouldn't go back to being a 13-year-old girl for a million pounds." That really intrigued me. PLus I had a 13-year-old girl of my own, to whom I was trying NOt to say, "YOu're not going out looking like that." And failing. Mothers are genetically programmed to criticise their daughters. Well, that's my excuse.
I had a Gillian Queen Be ein my life, but she wasn't called Gillian. She had that perfect bedroom with a PHONE and white pile carpet. And she used plain little speccy me as a sounding board for her boyfriend dilemmas. Like Petra, I was just a bit player in Gillian's dramas. And I did, dear God, empty my piggy bank to buy her a Mary Quant eyeshadow palette for her birthday so she would pick me as her best friend. And she did - ouch, the memory still hurts - give that gift to one of the other girls in our group. I found out one day in the girls' loos.
As a writer, I think that if you locate the things that made you wince - the memories almost too painful to own up to - and write them down, then you have the potential to make a powerful connection with your reader. That was certainly true of IDKHSDI. When I write that Kate took a long time brushing her teteh to avoid having sex with her husabdn so she could skip a shower in the morning and earn herself an extra 10 minutes sleep. That, alas, was me. But I do make some stuff up. Though mainly I magpie like mad from my girlfriends. Authors are all appalling PARASITES!

Evening everyone

We've been checking Allison's messaging and all is working ok, so without further ado...

I'm very excited and honoured to introduce Allison Pearson as tonight's Author of the Month. I DON'T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT has become a sort of talisman in my house - I think of it every time I find myself cracking an egg one-handed into a cake mix with two small, flour-covered 'helpers', whilst burping a baby and attempting to reply professionally to emails. And I THINK I LOVE YOU has reminded me that, despite the chaotic motherhood, maybe I don't want to go back to being young, free and smothered in pearlescent pink eyeshadow again.

Allison, firstly, congratulations on two fantastic, funny books. And thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us tonight. There are a few advance questions from earlier on that we could kick off with, and I'd also like to add my own:

What childhood book most inspired you?

And what advice would you give anyone attempting to write fiction?

AllisonPearson Tue 19-Apr-11 20:03:05

OK, Adair, stroking bridge of baby's nose is my best sleep tip. Don't get into any fussy Baby Must Sleep in Cot, Pointing Towards Mecca, Gina Ford crap. Baby must sleep wherever you are. In buggy, in car. I remember driving around for hours with mine. In fact, some enterprising person should set up a baby sleep-chauffeur service?
When they're tiny, wrap them tight and wedge into Moses basket between rolled-up towels like a hotdog. God, this makes me so nostalgic. Mine is now so teenage she sleeps till 2pm at weekends and I long for her to WAKE UP. Just know that that sleep deprivation phase won't last for long. You get your memory back by the time you're 48, just in time for the menopause to take it away...

Greenshadow Tue 19-Apr-11 20:09:50

Hello Allison,

I was one of those lucky enough to receive a free copy, courtesy of your publishers.
I was born in 1961, so would be the same age as Petra, but was more of a Donny fan than a David one. (My sister had his posters on our shared bedroom wall though, so will pass the book on to her next).

At first I was disappointed when the story went from the 1970s to the 90s as I wanted more links back to my teenage self, but soon forgot that and felt that it was right that it told her story as an adult (albeit with a rather predictable outcome).
Was it always going to be a story in two halves or was the original intention just to write about a 13 year olds life?

AllisonPearson Tue 19-Apr-11 20:10:57

Thank you TillyBookClub for those kind words. I didn't have many books in my house as a child. In fact, I didn't read all the middle-class classics until I did teacher training. I loved a scary book called Marianne Dreams, about a girl who is ill in bed for a long time and starts to live in a frightening drawing. I still remember the goosebumps it gave me.
Advice on writing is the only way to improve is to sit on your backside and start typing. Arse on chair, there's no substitute for that. And reading. Raed and read the writers you like, steep yourself in their words like a teabag. Gradually, you pick up the rhythms and the structure. I still feel like I'm learning. In I Think I Love You, I gave Bill a daughter, but I took her out because I couldn't handle any extra complexity. I'm some way off Anna Karenina at this point, but I think I'm improving..

Did the teacher training give you particular insights into raising children, do you think? And what made you swap teaching for journalism/writing?

AllisonPearson Tue 19-Apr-11 20:16:02

Hello Greenshadow,

I will forgive you for being a Donny fan.. I always wanted the book to be in two parts. I wanted the woman in her 30s to be looking back at her teenage self, when she has a teenager of her own. That teen infatuation is so strong and potent from generation to generation. The great dress rehearsal for love - it's primitive and quite scary, the oestrogen revving up in the young female. I wanted older Petra to reflect on the illusions about love her younger self had and how - maybe - they had affected her older self's view of relationships.
I also wanted to try and write a perfect romantic comedy, with a hook that took a woman back in time to be almost able to stand over her younger self. I'm just writing the stage musical of the book and I have the older and younger Petra actually singing to each other. I find that idea very moving.. Can it be that it was all so simple then/ Or has time rewritten every line. In the immortal words of Gladys Knight and the Pips.. The Way We Were..

TuttiFrutti Tue 19-Apr-11 20:23:06

What are you working on next? Your books so far seem quite different from each other - will the next one be still more different?

AllisonPearson Tue 19-Apr-11 20:24:39

Hi to all asking Can Women Have It All? The perennial problem. Not too many men being asked that question, I notice. GLoria Steinem said no man has ever been asked how he is going to combine a career with fatherhood..
From the thousands and thousands of glorious stories and confidences that IDKHSDI produced, I have deduced a little wisdom. There is no one answer that fits all. Staying home with a small baby terrifies some women, leaving home with a small baby in it distresses others. Know Thyself. Once you know what feels right try to act on it. No point being a feminist martyr if you're in a job incompatible with parenting. The sacrifice I made was to leave the office and colleagues that I loved, work from home, go up two dress sizes and live in Sweaty Betty. Oh, the glamour!
Personally, I think a four-day week, if you do go back, is a minimum requirement for sanity if you can swing it. You can get your boring tasks done on the Friday, maybe take darling child to a music or swimming class, so you have a toe in the mummy world. Then the weekend is pretty free just to hang out and BE. Took me a long time to learn that the kids don't need to DO much. Just being around you, curling up on the sofa and watching Beauty and the Beast (the BEST Disney film, certainly in feminist terms)
Also, do not forget the male person with whom you made the babies in the first place. We ended up having a babysitter Sunday nights and heading out from the weekend detritus to a movie. It was lovely, even if I fell asleep through most of the films of the 1990s.

'I think the Blair government did a lot to entrench better maternity rights, which there is no rowing back from.'

Do you really think that is true? When the Conservatives are considering exempting small business from certain employee laws including Maternity Leave? And cuts are being made to child-centric benefits?

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