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Fiction-Net > Book Reviews > Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee

Book Review

Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee by Meera Syal - Book Review

Title
Author
Publisher

Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee
Meera Syal
Black Swan

Fiction-Net Rating 4 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

A magical mosaic of friendship, betrayal and cross-cultural incongruities. By turns spicy, hilarious and sad, it unfolds the ties that bind young women to their East End Punjabi roots even as they head west for trendy careers café bars and sexual freedom.

A novel about friendship, marriage and betrayal set in a British Asian community background.

We Say

Deepak is marrying Chila and although no one is actually saying it, everyone is wondering why. Deepak is gorgeous, the most eligible bachelor around and Chila is, well, kind and sweet and innocent and not particularly gorgeous. Chila's friends Sunita and Tania are happy for her but then again, they have problems of their own. Sunita is worn-out and weary with two kids, a husband and a job that is beneath her capabilities. Tania is a go-getting, media babe with attitude who won't stand being reminded of her ethnic roots and hides a secret. Can they and their friendship survive the changes in their lives?

The choices for women are laid out here in all the usual ways (men, marriage, kids and careers) and it's a shame that we still haven't got beyond these old chestnuts. That said, Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee is frighteningly true to life and it does express the way many women still feel about their lives and their responses to situations. Meera Syal is very good at getting under the skin of her characters and fully exploring their motives. Consequently, though we have seen many of these character types before (the plain girl, the suppressed mother, the hardened bitch), in Syal's book they are real people.

This book provides an insightful view into modern multicultural life in Britain. The writing is strong and probably more powerful than in her debut novel, Anita and Me with some really dramatic and heartfelt moments. Also, with Meera Syal's credentials as a comedy writer (television's 'Goodness Gracious Me') there are some very funny moments drawn from modern life and the culture class between old style Punjabis and the new Asian cool.

Review by: Rachel Taylor

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