The International Writers Magazine: Review
Don’t you want me? By India Knight
Publisher: The Penguin Group (2002)
- Review by Daisy Seely
So when I fancy a bit of “chick-lit” or to be more socially correct (I am trying to avoid saying ‘politically correct’) a novel written by a woman and predominantly for women, what do I look for? To be honest I am convinced by the pink cover and persuaded more by the blurb, reading, ‘Stella is seriously starting to wonder if she’ll ever have sex again.’ This, along with the vulnerable title of Don’t you Want me? results in money being exchanged for the goods and then the book being stored safely in my bag. My intuition never fails me. An easy but enlightening read.
India Knight is a great “chick-lit” writer of our time. Not only has she had published this hysterically witty novel, Don’t you Want me? But she is also the writer of My Life on a Plate. It does not end there; as well as dabbling in Women’s contemporary literature she is also an accredited Sunday Times columnist and frequent web-blogger.
The cover suggests that a lack of sex is the issue; however, the novel gives us lots of it. Stella is a French/English single parent, living in Primrose Hill. She went to Cambridge University and mingles with art folk. She also has been married one and a half times. She is the epitome of the middle class but she so gallantly admits this and still rips others of her kind to shreds. She and her daughter, Honey, attend ‘Happy Bunnies’ a marginally politically correct playgroup that Stella describes as, ‘incredibly dirty’ she also questions, ‘why are some middle class people so weirdly keen on dirt?’ To add to her hatred for the club she is further infuriated by the parenting lessons she is given by the other laissez-faire mothers.
I would say that the parenting issue is one of the rather less exciting in this novel although Stella really does not hold back on what she thinks about the Mother’s at ‘Happy Bunnies’ and quite frankly I read it wishing I had the balls to be more upfront and honest. Talking of ‘frankly’ (to earlier quote myself) Frank is Stella’s rather dashing, brilliant with children, talented, good cook, house mate who she could not possibly fancy because he is ginger, she says, ‘Frank isn’t merely ginger…he makes the average carrot look pretty peaky.’
So we gather she is not interested; she is still back in the playground poking the ginger kid. Shame on her. She does, however, overcome this when she is made jealous by Frank dating one of her new playgroup friends. After dating a forty-one year old DJ and sleeping with a Doctor old enough to be her father with a rather orange tan that screams, you’ve been tangoed, and equally fluorescent penis, Stella decides that she fancies Frank. The realisation comes after she does several lines of cocaine; sings karaoke with transvestites named Regina and Miss Chastity and resists the advances of a partially bald neighbour whose wife is on holiday.
Stella explores the desperation of single mothers who feel on the verge of drying up, declaring themselves lesbians or perhaps even nuns. It is the universal theme of sex that makes this novel appealing to all women. Its crude approach and outlandish claims about ‘dirty-rides’ make it hilarious. It does make me wonder though, men are always described as having nothing on their mind other than sex, is this now the same for women? Who cares! This is a great read that in my books still counts as a love story and I am a sucker for romance, but then again, who isn’t?
© Daisy Seely Nov 2009
Daisy is studying Creative Writing at a University on the South Coast of England