Thursday, 21 March 2013

Books Read: Mike Gayle - The Stag and Hen Weekend

The Stag and Hen Weekend is the story of Phil and Helen, a couple in their thirties about to commit their lives to one another... that is of course if they can just manage to get through their respective stag and hen weekends (his: Amsterdam; hers: a country house and day spa in the Peak District) without falling apart. 

Told in the unique form of two separate stories that have common characters as well as themes and conclusion, The Stag and Hen Weekend can be read from front to back or from back to front putting the reader in the driver's seat as to which story they wish to read first.

The Stag and Hen Weekend by Mike Gayle is a unique book that it's actually in two parts; one story covering Phil's lively stag weekend in Amsterdam and the other about Helen's hen weekend spent at a country spa hotel.  Once you've read about the first weekend you simply flip the book over to start reading the other part of the story.  It's the reader choice as to whether they start with Phil's story or Helen's... I decided to read about Phil's exploits first.

As you'd probably expect the stag weekend is a lively affair with Phil and his mates going to Amsterdam for the weekend, although Phil is not actually looking forward to it as he knows his ideas as to how he'd like to spend the weekend differ to what his best man Simon has in store.  But on first night Phil gets chatting to an attractive woman who he soon discovers he has more in common with than he first realises. This chance encounter seems to leave Phil questioning his whole future. 

Helen is not particularly looking forward to her hen weekend either as she'll have to spend time with her future sister-in-law Caitlin who, despite the number of years Phil and Helen have been together, has never been the easiest person to get along with.  However, she can relax and enjoy her first night with her friends as Caitlin is not arriving until the next morning... that is until her ex fiance Aiden turns up. Helen is already suffering with pre-wedding jitters and now Aiden's appearance has brought back a lot of painful memories and his shock announcement is not helping matters either...

I'm a bit on the fence with this book as I didn't love it but then again I didn't hate it either, for me I preferred the stag weekend element more than I did the hen weekend.  I did think the concept was a good one but just felt that neither story really came to a conclusion, there were just too many loose ends that needed tying up.  Personally I think it might have worked better if it had been written as alternate chapters as that way you could have reached a fitting conclusion without leaving any questions needing answering.  

I'd like to thank Emilie at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of this book to review.  

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