Saturday, 4 April 2015

Guest Book Review: Melissa Kite - The Girl Who Couldn't Stop Arguing

Reviewed by Melissa Kite

Madison Flight refuses to be born for five days. She comes out eventually - kicking, screaming, and scarred for life by forceps - but it isn't long before her mother, Cynthia, realises the terrible truth: she has given birth to the world's first arguing baby. 

Cyntha's husband Mitchell soon takes off in terror, leaving her to raise their quarrelsome rugrat with only the help of the next door neighbour Shirley - a sadistic retired nurse who detests children. 

Madison's young life is full of proud milestones: at the age of one she breaks the world record for the number of times anyone has said the word 'no' during a two week Spanish package holiday - 4,477 times - and she gets better with practice. Lots of practice. 

This is the story of a girl who wanted to be right rather than happy. This is the story of the girl who couldn't stop arguing.

Amazon link: Paperback

Remind me again never to judge a book by it's cover or to delve in with preconceptions because first appearances are definitely deceptive. When I received a copy of The Girl Who Couldn't Stop Arguing by Melissa Kite, I thought great title shame about the cover. The cover is quite boring and I felt the blue colour used was dull and wouldn't really catch your eye on the shelves of a bookshop. So I kept this on the long finger for a few weeks but when I picked it up I'm glad to say all my suspicions were instantly proven wrong. Opening with a sharp, witty prologue describing a courtroom scene this was full of sarcasm and one liners. I was hooked straight away and the humour, banter and sharp retorts continued apace throughout the book and that is what made it so appealing. I haven't laughed so much at a book in ages and having not expected to do so I want to thank Melissa Kite for the thoroughly enjoyable few hours I spent absorbed in this strangely compelling book.

Madison Flight is our main character, it would be too much of a cliché to call her Madison Fight - for that is what she does. She entered the world six days late and has literally to be pulled kicking and screaming from her mother. This hysteria continues throughout her childhood and of course her first word was no and continued to be so for a long time. She questions everything and everyone from her parents to the local priest and her teachers. To say Madison was a tough child to rear would be an understatement, the scene of the Little Fougham pork pie riots had me in stitches. I only wish that I could be a small bit as honest as Madison is, it might help me a bit more in life, although her urge to go so far with the truth would get me in trouble. Madison puts her argumentative talents to good use and becomes one of the country's top divorce lawyers. She continues to vie with Anna Pirana for this accolade. That is one thing I loved about this book the names of the characters certainly sum up their personalities and they were quite ingenious. I mean Justice Juniper (he sees fish dangling from the courtroom ceiling), Belinda Bilby, Elden John and Christopher Wilde (who is nothing like his name). Every single character was flawed not one could you say was the perfect person and this made the book realistic and all the more enjoyable as you read about their seemingly perfect outside persona’s but behind closed doors they all had secrets to hide. Most of the characters were just that little bit mad and crazy. From gambling, sex and drug addiction to overspending and secret ethnic rebels this book had it all and more.

There was what seemed to me over 70 pages of an intro before the book got going and normally this would drive me crazy, I’m always eager to get to the action and the heart of the story. But in this case it didn't bother me at all as the writing was just brilliant, sharp and to the point. At times the author does have a tendency to go off on tangents describing scenarios or background character information and I began to think was this all really necessary? In fact  in this book it  just added to the story rather than detract from it. Going into so much detail re Madison's childhood helped me to understand her better when we read of her later in life. She must have had some form of O.C.D and maybe something else to carry on the way she did. Reading of her daily commute to work was both hilarious and frightening at the same time, I would have been exhausted by the time I reached the office if I had fought and disagreed with everyone I had encountered along the way.

The main plot of the story surrounds the impending divorce of Belinda Bilby (worth billions thanks to her dead first husband) and struggling artist Seth Taylor. He wants a divorce she won't give it to him. Belinda is a forceful woman and all the descriptions of her so called lavish lifestyle were hilarious and at times cringeworthy. The author really comes into her own here, she ran riot coming up with all the crazy things Belinda invests in and how she runs her spectacular home. I did feel sorry for poor Seth, he really had been coerced into a marriage that was not for him. Being stabbed in the bum with a cheese knife was surely the last straw! The scene where Seth flees the mansion was really well written and so easy to visualise as you laughed at the antics.The latter half of the book follows the ensuing court case and Madison and co come into their own here. We still get plenty of side line stories as well as the main action and it all just galloped along at a great pace.There was a big twist towards the end and here Madison's parents were phenomenal with laughs a plenty on every page. There is so much to talk about but I won't reveal any more as I think I've said enough to whet your appetites.

The Girl Who Couldn't Stop Arguing was a refreshingly different read from the normal run of the mill rom-com chicklit. It was nice to have a break from the usual girl meets boy, they fall in love, argue, split up and then get back together again. It's all been done countless of times before. But in Madison Flight, the author has created a character that stands out from the norm, she is fearless, headstrong,  opinionated, wilful and not afraid to challenge things that are not right. Towards the end I was fearful we were going to get the stereotypical ending that we receive from some women writers. But fair play the author didn't give in to convention instead gave me the conclusion that I often look for in a book and never get. Written with such brutal honesty and panache Melissa Kite has devised a cast of wonderfully eclectic, unforgettable characters that brightened up my day through their comedic one liners and the situations they find themselves in. This is a book that deserves a lot more publicity and recognition, it's entertaining, tongue in cheek and a brilliant read. I'm so glad I took the chance on this one and hope you will too.

I'd like to thank Grace at Little Brown for sending a copy of this book to Emma to review.

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