Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Book review: Minus nine to one

A few friends have mentioned that I might like to read Jools Oliver's book, you know, her having difficulty in conceiving an' all.

My mate had a copy so this weekend I nicked borrowed it.

For those who don't know Jools Oliver (yes, she does spell her name like that) is the wife of celebrity chef and mockney Jamie Oliver, the naked one who rarely got naked.

As a book about the struggle to get pregnant its not great.

**spoiler** (though to be fair the cover/ title of her book spoils it too)

She gets pregnant by page 30. And although, she says that she took provera, clomid and had a HSG it is sort of glossed over. She writes "As it goes, a simple visit to my GP was all that was required at first ... He immediately gave me a referral letter to see Mr Geoffrey Trew, whom he considered to be the best fertility doctor in the country."

As anyone who has battled to see a specialist, then waited for an appointment and tried to get them to take you seriously and not tell you to go home and relax it doesn't really chime with the non-celebrity wives' experience. But that said, good on her for coming out and not crediting some Australian waterfall for the conception.

It is very easy reading. It is broken into chunks that follow a general chronological order but meanders a bit when relevant. Yeah, kinda like a blog.

I did get a bit exasperated with her writing style. She has a fondness for the exclamation mark. Which regular readers will know annoys me. I don't tend to use it just to denote that I am telling a joke! It's, like, really annoying! (You got that?) I defy anyone to find a single page without at least two exclamation marks.

The majority of the book is about her pregnancy and giving birth, twice. And it was interesting. I found myself reading it almost getting excited about how I would feel at that stage, and what I would pack to take to the hospital in contrast to her overnight bag which had to include her cowboy boots.

It is engaging. But, I might re-read it when I am actually pregnant rather than just fantasising about it.

She says at one point during her description of frantic screwing and whilst trying to get pregnant, "You must excuse me for the next few paragraphs. I may revert to a slightly corny mode of writing as my mum and mum-in-law will no doubt read this and, frankly, using the words 'shag' and 'sex' might upset them". And you do sort of get the feeling that she is a bit self-conscious throughout the book. And I know that I avoided mentioning sex to my dad, but if you are going to write a book like this you have to just go for it.

So in conclusion. Its a quick, digestible read. Its got its charm, it could have done with a better editor, and maybe a second read through (you get the impression you are reading the first draft). Probably best for pregnant people than those who hope to find solace in their infertility

Anyone read it and wildly disagree, or even agree? Any other books you'd recommend? (Although be warned I hate self-help books even more than exclamation marks).


  1. Sorry I can't help as haven't read it. Thank you though as it does sound like a good one to avoid. Apparently Gorden Ramsey also had fertility struggles and if his wife has written/writes a book now that would be a story, he would be one interesting husband. I like him (in that sick kinda way I would find it funny to go to one of those resturants and be yelled at by the waiter)but can't get my head around him being voted one of the top 20 sexiest men.
    Way off topic there oops

  2. I'm glad I've read your review, I was thinking about reading it but now I'm not going to bother. It sounds like it would iritate me.

  3. Paint it Black, what is it with celebrity chefs and infertile wives. That must be a study waiting to happen. And sexy? No no no no.

    Secret D, it is probably a book to get out of the library rather than part with hard cash for.

  4. The thought of that lippy git shagging anyone really turns my gut.

  5. X, the husband was reading over my shoulder as I was writing the post and was trying to get me to refer to him as a 'fat-tongued mockney cunt'. Clearly he has similar feelings toward him as you do. He's maybe not a man's man.

  6. That's quite similar to the phrase I had at the ready too but decided against for the sake of decency.

    I don't know whether I'm more chuffed that someone share my gutrot of him or it's implication that I'm a man's man.

  7. Oh Xbox, I'm really sorry. You misunderstood me. I meant men don't like Jamie. Not that you are a man's man. Oh dear me, no. You know you blog about infertility right? And bbt and opk and all that stuff real men don't get...

    Man's man! Oh bless.

  8. I haven't read the book, but I think I'll steer clear until I'm on the way to a successful pregnancy (that's me in optimistic mode).

    One book about an infertility journey you might enjoy is "Pink for a girl" by Isla McGuckin. I found it a good read.

  9. It does sound as if there are many other, better books out there - ones which are written by someone who can actually string a sentence together, rather than by someone who's managed to get a publishing deal as a result of her husband's celebrity status.

    I think Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility is one of the more helpful publications I've read - I know you say that you're wary of self-help books, but this one is co-authored by several psychotherapists, all of whom have dealt with infertility themselves and who now run a practice specialising in working with infertile couples. I remember nodding in recognition as I read large parts of it.

  10. Jane, Good, stay optimistic! (Oh my lord and exclamation mark, what is going on?). I'll look out your recommendation. ta

    Ms H, So cynical, you don't really think that's why they wanted to publish her?... I will bear the Unsung lullabies in mind.

  11. I haven't read it. Your description reminds me a bit though of a different book written by a SMBC that left me shaking my head and wondering how someone that uneducated managed to get knocked up on the first freaking try. I don't recommend that one either.

  12. Batty, I have no idea what a SMBC is (just googled it and got Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, I'm guessing thats not right).

  13. I loved your comment "But that said good on her for coming out and not crediting some Australian waterfall for the conception" That's EXACTLY what I'd been thinking too. Am increasingly suspicious when reading of 40+ celebrity's miraclebabes conceived by light of harvest moon/in some fairy glade/via some other hocuspocus, when really they've been *up to here* on GonalF!!

  14. I had a Laparoscopy under taken by Dr Geoffrey Trew back in Sept 05 and was under his care as a private patient. Within hours after the Lap I was in extreme pain and sickness raised tempreture and CRP levels of which he advised to take good care of me as I was only a day patient. After 10 days in the care of Dr Geoffrey Trew, Stuart Lavery and Rual Magara whom they work from 92 Harley Street London and Hammersmith fertility Clinics, I was left in Intensive Care for 4 weeks with a 80% mortality rate on Life Suport with multiple Organ Failure then transferred to Torbay Hospital for 360 days as an inpatient spending 400 Days in total in Hospital and discharged Disalbed. I was 33 years old when this happened.Melanie Cox Devon.


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