Sunday, 8 April 2018

Book review : The Generation Game - Sophie Duffy

Philippa, the central character of Sophie Duffy's The Generation Game, was born in 1965, just a few years before me, so it was a real nostalgic trip down memory lane for me as I read about her early years. From foodie treats such as Fray Bentos meat pies to a quarter of sherbert lemons, and iconic TV shows including Blue Peter, Top of the Pops (with Pan's People) and Doctor Who, all the classic memories of my own suburban British childhood were there. The host of supporting characters, from Mr Sugar the kind and aptly-named sweet shop owner, Wink the feisty but poorly neighbour with her talking parrot Captain and the smooth-talking second hand car salesman Bernie, are all people I could vaguely relate to as real-life figures from my own distant past (even down to the talking parrot - unbelievably I used to know two talking parrots, one at my best friend's house and one outside a local pub - do people even have talking parrots these days ?!). As she grows up through the eighties and nineties, experimenting with dodgy hair and makeup, Babycham and student friends with newly-found, right-on political views, I could still relate to her memories and experiences.

The Generation Game is about more than a rose-tinted look at life in Britain during my formative years though. As well as referring to a popular TV show, the title hints at a darker, more poignant aspect of Philippa's life - the complex and often complicated relationships between the generations, be it a mother in eternal mourning for her son (and Philippa's friend) who died at the age of seven, an absent father or a child abandoned by her mother. Philippa doesn't have the classic mum-dad-two-point-two-kids family unit that was the norm back in the seventies, but her dysfunctional group of friends and relatives actually functions very well, providing her with the love and stability that she needs to thrive. Nothing can replace the absence of a mother though, particularly in those scary and complicated days when a young girl or even grown woman has to come to terms with transitioning from a daughter to a mother herself, and Philippa's doomed relationships, dodgy decisions and heartache add a poignant, grittier edge to the amusing anecdotes going on as a backdrop.

I love the way a time capsule à la Blue Peter manages to bring together all the different threads and generations, finally giving much-needed answers and closure and allowing Philippa to find her happily-ever-after ending. It's a satisfying, uplifting and heart-warming novel with a cast of endearing characters and numerous throwbacks to my own past that made me smile. As the great Brucie would have said himself, Nice to read you - to read you, nice !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (5 April 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1787198545
  • ISBN-13: 978-1787198548
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.


  1. Sounds like an engaging novel, with a moving story.

  2. Oh this sounds like it would bring a lot of memories back for me (born a couple of years before!), now on my to read list

  3. Happy memories. Sounds a good book


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