This will be my first book review on this blog! Seeing as I’m always saying to myself I need to read more books, I hope it won’t be the last. It’s actually been a fair few months since I finished reading this book but luckily I made some notes about my thoughts as I had the intention of writing a review of it – I didn’t expect that I actually would get around to it but here we are.
Wilde Like Me is written from the point of view of main character Robin Wilde, who is a single mother navigating life, career, friendships, relationships and motherhood. The author is Louise Pentland, who is a lifestyle YouTuber and blogger who I’ve watched for years and I very much enjoy her videos and her personality. Curiosity and wanting to support Louise were the primary reasons for buying this book. I also wanted to get into reading regularly (which btw, hasn’t happened) and thought something lighthearted, contemporary and intellectually undemanding (no offence, Louise) might be a good way to ease myself in.
I found this novel a slow burner and not immediately gripping; in fact I had to force myself to sit down and read it. In fairness, it picked up towards the final third and from that point I finished it quickly as I was interested in where it was going. However, I don’t think this redeemed it from the initial dullness. The lack of action combined with the unsophisticated writing style meant there was little enticement during that first half or so.
Considering that I watch Louise’s YouTube videos, I knew a lot about her life and history and also her general personality – knowing so much about an author of a book is unusual. You can tell extremely quickly that Louise took very literally that classic writing advice of “write what you know”. Robin’s life situation and speech is extremely similar to Louise’s herself and that was hard to get away from. So much of Robin’s language and characteristics screamed ‘Louise’. It felt like a detached way for Louise to write an autobiography and just change some of the details.
Robin, like the narrative itself, took a while to warm to as a character. I think by the end I had grown to like her but I still wasn’t enamored. I imagine to many readers who were also watchers of Louise’s videos and mothers themselves, Robin and her thoughts and feelings on motherhood and identity were probably very relatable. For me, I could relate to some of Robin’s feelings and experiences, particularly her past relationship with the father of her child. The novel also touches upon post natal depression and depression in general, referred to as “The Emptiness”. These are of course incredibly important topics and I respect Louise for touching upon them. Due to Robin’s similarities to the author’s situation, it did make me think that Louise was probably writing this from a very personal perspective. An unattractive quality Robin seemed to possess, which also made me question whether Louise has/does feel like this herself, is the huge part of her happiness, contentment and self-worth that she associates with having a man in her life. This was irritating and not a message I expected to find within this book.
The language was very informal and used a lot of tech-y/social media derived terms and references. Most of the time I found this quite cringey and I do see the thought behind such language (to be relatable, add humour, speech-like) but it’s not what I personally enjoy in a book. Writing allows you to think deeply about every word, it’s not uneditable so you can constantly improve, you can be clever and sophisticated with your words and I found all the informality lazy. Additionally, I was quite shocked at the amount of clunky sentences and spelling and grammatical errors littered throughout, suggesting a rushed and shoddy editing process.
Maybe I am a bit of a literature snob, I do enjoy and appreciate clever language and beautiful, evocative descriptions, and this did not provide that. But then I didn’t really expect that it would. It is what it is: a book by a YouTuber/blogger who has become very successful and got herself a book deal and didn’t attempt to go far beyond her comfort zone. I expect a lot of her audience would enjoy this book but for me the dull narrative was not given life with clever writing like it needed. It’s not terrible, I did finish it and it made me smile, and it does touch upon some important and current topics in today’s society but I don’t think that’s enough to excite or encourage me to buy the sequel that Louise is currently writing.
Love Nicole xxxx