Friday, 10 February 2017

A Day at the Office by Matt Dunn

Publication date: 3rd December 2013
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Romance

Publication synopsis
For most people, Valentine’s Day means flowers, chocolates, and candlelit dinners. But for five of Seek Software’s employees, it’s shaping up to be as much fun as a trip to the dentist.

Long-term singleton Sophie has a crush on colleague Nathan but worries he doesn’t even know her name. And is there really any point in her sending a card to the man who organises the annual office Anti-Valentine’s party?

Overweight, insecure, and still living with his mum, Calum’s desperate for a girlfriend. He’s recently met the woman of his dreams online but his exaggerated profile might mean tonight’s first date could also be their last.

Mark’s been besotted with Julie since she kissed him at the office Christmas party. While she doesn’t seem to remember a thing, today might be his best chance to remind her. If only he could work out how.

A Day at the Office is a wise, wonderfully moving, and laugh-out-loud novel about life, love, and relationships by bestselling novelist Matt Dunn.

My review
I got hold of a copy of this book having read and reviewed the follow-up, A Christmas Day at the Office, in December 2016, which I had thoroughly enjoyed.  I liked the characters and thought it would be good to spend a bit more time reading about them.  It was unfortunate that I had read the sequel first as it meant I knew the outcome to each of their stories ahead of time, so I would recommend reading them in the right sequence. 

A Day at the Office is a light romantic novel packed with humorous scenes.  Some of the jokes were a bit transparent - in that you could see them coming ahead of time, e.g. when Calum acquires a packet of condoms and puts them in his jacket pocket, you know somewhere down the line a gag is coming that will feature said condoms.  The humor was a bit hit & miss, and I did not enjoy that much of it was at the expense of the female characters, in particular, poor Sophie who is sexually objectified several times, purely for comedic effect.  There is also overweight 'hairy Mary'.  Mary has nobody to love but Mr Whiskers, her cat, who she refers to as 'him indoors', much to the amusement of her work colleagues (and intended to amuse us readers).  Then there is a 'cougar' type character that Calum has a blind date with who considers herself to be a bit of a 'MILF' (after all, we all know that dating sites are full of older women who are sexual predators looking for dates with boys young enough to be their sons, and not the other way around!).   If this had been balanced by some negative male stereotypes that we could also have a good laugh at, then fine.  Even though some of the male characters are presented as not particularly handsome or attractive, they don't get objectified or ridiculed for their shortcomings in the same way.  Instead, their shortcomings are presented in a self-deprecating way by the characters themselves, which encourages us to like them and laugh with rather than at them.

I quite liked the book (although, I should be embarrassed to admit it).  I am generally anti-Valentine's day because I think it is mostly a marketing ploy, but this book has (almost) convinced me the occasion has some value.  I enjoyed reading about the characters again and was amused by some of the comedic scenes.  A guilty pleasure, methinks.

A Christmas Day at the Office is the better book; although not completely absent of stereotypes and more jokes at poor Sophie' s expense.

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