Pig in the Middle by Matt Whyman
|Pig in the Middle by Matt Whyman|
|Reviewer: Trish Simpson-Davis|
|Summary: Funny, well-observed and endearingly honest about his shortcomings as a practical pig-keeper, children's author, Matt Whyman takes the lid off his own family and other animals life-style.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: October 2011|
|Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton|
|External links: Author's website|
|ISBN: 978 1 444711462|
I'm so pleased I read this book. It's only the occasional writer who grabs me by the short and curlies with his observation of human nature, but accomplished children's writer Matt Whyman not only grabbed me, but sold me on the mini-pigs as well.
The Whyman family already boasted four kids when they moved out of London for an affordable home in the country. In their larger property, they managed to house a cat, a dog, four chickens and two mini-pigs. I hesitate to say these animals were confined to the large garden, because only the chickens lived outside permanently. The rest of the animals seemed to dominate the house even when the family were at school or work and Matt the house husband was trying to get on with his own writing. Like him, I'm sure I would have drawn the line at diminutive baby pigs weeing under the desk, over my socks, during business hours, even if they were favourite family pets.
Emma, his wife, is a force to be reckoned with. She is the family's executive director, managing Matt (always endearingly eager to please her), juggling children and career, but with her strong maternal instincts brimming over: hence her unilateral decision to introduce the mini-pigs into the family. Lou and May, her two older daughters, are just as feisty and crazy about animals. They come complete as vignettes of teenagerly whingeing about Dad's dress sense when he turns up at a sleepover in odd shoes and multi-patterned clothing. Nevertheless, by the time I'd been in the house with them for a while, I loved Matt's women almost as much as he does.
Matt Whyman follows a long tradition of men so self-deprecating about their practical skills that as a pretty inadequate DIYer myself, I couldn't help but cosy up to him as well. The writer Matt sounded like a smashing house-husband, but faced with the practical challenges of providing logistical support to six humans and eight animals, he rather buckled at the knees. The lovely thing about him is his total honesty in confessing his inadequacies, particularly in the building line. Fortunately his highly competent farming mentor, Tom, could bail him out of any number of dodgy moments, which often make for laugh-aloud reading.
What comes over are the strong bonds between the family, which is a rare pleasure to savour these days. How often recently have you read about all the family sitting down to watch a favourite soap together (even if Roxi, the girl-pig, is taking up all the room on the sofa)? Reading the book, I was struck by how much understanding the self-effacing Matt Whyman has of himself and his family. It makes for a narrator very much in command of his story.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book.
If you like family plus animals stories, then you might enjoy My Animals and Other Family by Julia Blackburn or Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott. Animal lovers might not have yet met An Otter on the Aga by Rex Harper or An Eagle in the Airing Cupboard by the sam author. If you enjoyed the humorous tone, then take a peek at the Bookbag reviews. of Allotted Time: Two Blokes, One Shed, No Idea by Robin Shelton or Eat, Pray, Eat by Michael Booth.
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