I’ve followed Louise Pentland aka Sprinkle of Glitter for a really long time now, particularly her vlogs, and she’s always come across as a genuinely lovely person, so I was really excited to read her first fiction book ‘Wilde Like Me‘.
Watching people’s vlogs really allows you to feel like you are getting to know them, and I was sad for her when Louise announced that she and her husband were splitting up a few years ago, and then happy for her when I saw recently that she is with someone else and expecting her second child. I think knowing all this about a writer can make you approach a book slightly differently, particularly when there are similarities with their life from the start.
Wilde Like Me is about Robin Wilde, a single mum who is lonely and often bored with her life, and regularly experiences what she calls ‘The Emptiness’. She’s a great mum but constantly doubts herself, and worries she is affecting her daughter by being this way.
She has a brilliant and lovely best friend, Lacey and an eccentric but very special and loving Aunt, Kath who are both always there for her. For a long time Robin struggles to fit in with the other school mums at her daughter, Lyla’s, posh school, she has bad experiences of online dating once she finally decides to put herself out there again, but always manages to put on a good front to hide how she is really feeling. I felt a lot of similarities with my own life as I was reading Wilde Like Me, and it also crossed my mind that we were also perhaps finding out more about how Louise had felt in her own life and how she had felt as a single mum.
I really, really wanted to love this book, and I did eventually get into it and enjoy it. But it did take me a long time to really get into it. At first I think I struggled to separate the fictional character Robin, with the writer Louise, as there are lots of similarities to their lives – both youngish single mums to daughter’s who love make-up. That shouldn’t really have been a problem, but instead of getting to know the characters and imagining them as they were described, with long dark hair – I kept picturing Louise and her daughter and couldn’t seem to separate the two until I got into the characters more and learnt more about their lives. I guess that’s the problem with knowing the writer from the online world. It just meant I took a bit longer to feel engaged with the fictional characters I think, and I did enjoy the fact that the story was probably related and partly based on Louise’s real life.
Also, I was just a bit bored for a while I’m afraid. I love that there is honest talk of how Robin is feeling and that she is clearly depressed and struggling, and the writer is honest about that. But there is so much talk of ‘The Emptiness’ that it got a bit draining to be honest. Maybe part of that is down to the fact that I have been feeling similar at times recently, so I didn’t particularly want to be brought down by someone else feeling similar; I’m not sure. I just didn’t enjoy the mention of it so often or that it was given a name, although I’m not entirely sure why. But either way, I just feel like I would have liked more to happen earlier on in the book.
About half way through is where it all turned around for me though, and I wanted to keep reading and find out if and how Robin was going to get her happy ever after (we all want that to happen in a book don’t we?). It got much more interesting and fun, and started to make me laugh at times.
I found it really interesting how similar some of the things Louise wrote were to my life and my relationship with my daughter. I think she writes in a similar way to me, and I bloody loved the swearing in it – that may sound weird but it’s how I write and think too and it just made it more relatable and fun for me. When Robin and Lyla are telling each other how much they love each other, I was like ‘THIS IS EXACTLY ME AND AVA – WE SAY THE SAME THING!’ and I loved that about it.
“I love you so much, to the moon and all the way around the earth and back again,”
“Well, I love you to the moon and all the way around the earth and then all the way to Saturn.”
That is us.
I felt like the writer really got into her stride at the halfway point of the book, and it just felt a lot better written and flowed more. It is her first book and so I can imagine any future books from Louise Pentland (which I am sure there will be) will be great and I would definitely read them. I did love reading about Robin’s life and how relatable it all was. It’s nice reading about someone having the same doubts about themselves and their role as a mother as you are, and seeing her getting through it, and growing in confidence. At times I was slightly frustrated with her and her inability to see how she was being treated by one person in her life, but I suppose that’s real life and we can sometimes cling onto the good bits someone gives us rather than seeing them for what they are and how they treat us.
I did get annoyed by a couple of errors in the book, although I do find that so often with books nowadays, and it frustrates the hell out of me. I noticed a couple of bits that didn’t follow on properly – one where Robin had the tea her aunt had made for her in her hand, and the next it was back in her aunt’s hand. It’s not a big deal but those things do really frustrate me.
Wilde Like Me is a book that is easy to read, and really does get going in the second half, and I enjoyed wondering and then finding out what was going to happen to Robin and where she would end up and who with. So often in books you can see it coming a mile away, but I really wasn’t sure who Robin would end up with. I don’t want to ruin the ending, but I liked how it all turned out for Robin and Lyla, and the realness of the ending.
I loved how much I could relate to Robin as a mother, and with the bits that I feel I am crap at and often feel like the only one in the world who fails at certain little things. It was nice to discover I am actually not alone in those things, and it made me love Wilde Like Me more.
I just wish it had got going a bit sooner in the story, and that we had perhaps learnt a bit more about the characters right from the start. But I think Louise is a great writer and it is a lovely first book from her. I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.
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