Book review: ‘Sleeping Arrangements’ by Madeleine Wickham

It’s official: I’m severing all ties with Madeleine Wickham. After reading a few of her books and consequently wanting to shove most of them into a mud pit, hopefully to be swallowed whole, I’m placing her on Meg’s Banned List until I’m somehow convinced to give her a second chance.

And I can be rather stubborn about these things.

So here we have Sleeping Arrangements, a tawdry and droning little book centering on two families thrust together unexpectedly on holiday in Spain. Chloe is desperate to get away with her long-time partner, Philip, and their two sons. When an opportunity to stay at an old friend’s villa pops into their laps, Chloe eagerly accepts an invitation to get away for a much-needed break.

But when they arrive, she’s shocked to find another family already soaking up some rays on the property — and it just so happens she has quite the history with Hugh, a charismatic businessman who broke her heart more than a decade before. Hugh has his hands full with two young daughters and his wife, Amanda, a snotty and self-indulgent trophy wife who seems to be nothing more than a status symbol. And then the real fun begins.

I borrowed a copy of Sleeping Arrangements on audio from the library and listened to the whole novel quickly, though I can’t say it was with much enjoyment. These characters are annoying, spoiled and pretty insufferable. I felt zero empathy for Chloe or Hugh, both of whom acted like petulant children for most of the narrative. Philip was an affable dullard and Amanda a total twit, so that left me with . . . who? Jenna, the rebellious Australian nanny brought along to care for Amanda and Hugh’s squealing daughters? Sam, the teenage boy obsessed with what’s hidden beneath Jenna’s bikini? Gerard, the over-the-top snobby wine critic who masterminds this whole “mix-up”?

Eh. The whole novel just left a sour taste in my mouth. It’s all so faux angsty and ridiculous, and I couldn’t muster up an ounce of enthusiasm for this unhappy British lot. If I’d had my nose in a paperback or — shudder — a hardcover, I would have surely tossed it aside after just a few chapters. But since it was on loan and on audio, I stuck it out.

But would I recommend it? Only if you like your chick lit with a healthy dash of unpleasant, ridiculous characters and unfeasible situations. And I don’t think you do.

2 out of 5!

ISBN: 0312943970 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Audiobook borrowed from my local library

10 thoughts on “Book review: ‘Sleeping Arrangements’ by Madeleine Wickham

  1. I recently listened to 40 Love by the author and even though there was no real depth to her characters (except for maybe 2) I enjoyed to fun romp – you definitely have to be in the mood for that type of book to enjoy it.

    I haven’t read Sleeping Arrangements yet but it is on my shelf – I don’t read this type of book all the time but like to work them in when I need a break from what I usually read.


  2. A friend loaned me the first Shopaholic book a while back, and I made it about 20 pages in before I couldn’t take any more of the protagonist. Guess it’s just not my thing. It did make a cute movie, though.


  3. I unfortunately feel that same way about Madeleine Wickham. I have read a couple of hers and feel the same way. I have 40 Love on my shelf, but can’t get around to reading it. I however LOVE the books she’s written as Sophie Kinsella. I have read every one of them, and love every one of them. It’s weird that it’s the same person and you can have such drastic differences in opinions on the books.


  4. I feel the same way as Kari. I love every single Sophie Kinsella book, but cannot stand any of the Madeleine Wickham books! I don’t understand how they can be so different.


  5. So I read and liked this book, and generally like Madeline Wickham, however, I completely agree with your review. I think I primarily like these books because I can breeze through them, escape to another world, and the fact that it will be okay if I accidentally skip a few pages. It is funny how I can see both sides, I guess I am just not a very particular reader.


  6. I borrowed this one from the library and read it early in the summer, and you’re right – it was no good. Like Kari and adw7984a, I love the Sophie Kinsella books, but the Madeleine Wickham ones just don’t do it for me.


  7. I don’t think I’ve ever actually banned any author’s books (well, except for Nicholas Sparks, obviously), but I agree with some of the other comments: I’ve enjoyed Sophie Kinsella books, but I don’t like Madeleine Wickham. I find that really strange.


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