Oh Dear Silvia
Who is in Coma Suite Number 5?
A matchless lover? A supreme egotist? A selfless martyr? A bad mother? A cherished sister? A selfish wife?
All of these. For this is Silvia Shute who has always done exactly what she wants. Until now, when her life suddenly, shockingly stops.
I picked up Dawn French’s Oh Dear Silvia the other week, the concept intrigued me – a book with a silent main character?! I haven’t seen another book like that before (but if you have, then tell us in the comments below!)
I enjoyed this book. I’ve always found Dawn French to be hilarious – there are plenty of laugh out loud moments in this book! – And I really enjoyed her first novel, A Tiny Bit Marvellous. She has copied the format of that book, where each chapter is a different character and the narrative pieces together bit by bit.
The book centres on Silvia Shute, a woman who has landed in a coma and is visited by her wacky sister, ex-husband, bitter estranged daughter, hilarious gossip obsessed housekeeper, caring nurse and shady best friend. It’s a book of Whys. Why is she in a coma? Why did she leave her family? Why is Silvia so hated and so lonely?
I loved the characters, they were deep and funny and working through the demons and scars left behind by Silvia. I found the sister Jo’s chapters to be the funniest and while she seems crazy at the start, her character arc is brilliantly written and resolved. Oh Dear Silvia is also really well researched. Silvia’s estranged ex-husband, Ed, owns a forest, so I learnt a few random facts about trees and found it really enhanced the novel.
Running through the book is a bit of a murder mystery that, piece by piece, we find out how Silvia was involved and how she got to be in the coma. I liked it, but Dawn French is no Agatha Christie yet so I found it was a bit predictable and far too easily resolved. However, it was still a great part of the book and her timing is perfect, to answer the big questions surrounding Silvia’s coma and the reason she left her family.
Overall the book is great! It’s funny and dark, poetic in some places and painfully honest in others. It’s an easy read, with fantastic characters and a well thought out plot.