Helly Acton – The Shelf

I downloaded this as an audio book as something to keep me entertained for the many hours of decorating I’ve done over the last few weeks.

What I didn’t expect was for the book to leave me feeling as irritated as it did. I completely understand that it was the point of the book, but the constant irritation really detracted from being able to enjoy the book and the (mostly) lovely characters inside.

We start off with our main character Amy. She’s being surprised to a romantic holiday by her pig of a boyfriend, who rather ironically calls her piglet because she’s a little curvy. You immediately get the feeling that he’s completely destroyed her self-esteem, and I just wanted to punch his (imaginably) weasely little face.

Only it turns out that the romantic holiday she thinks she’s going on is actual more of a nightmare. You see, he has signed her up for a new reality show called ‘The Shelf’. She’s apparently not a good enough girlfriend, so this reality show will show her how to be better, how to be ‘The Keeper’.

Disgusting, right?!

Turns out he’s not the only obnoxious pig though, as there are 5 other contestants who have been ‘nominated’ for the show, and we follow these six women as they compete in ‘challenges’ to be able to stay in the house and prove themselves the winner.

The fact that they were such complicated, flawed and real characters was the only thing that made me continue listening to this audiobook, because the challenges and the people the contestants had to interact with were pretty vile and I found myself continually getting a bit angry.

The book highlighted perfectly how all women are different and want different things from their lives, and we shouldn’t all be pigeon-holed into the same mold, the picture perfect housewife. Because that picture perfect housewife doesn’t exist. The female empowerment angle was great.

But I think for me, because the female characters were all so varied, I would have liked to have more variation in the male characters too. I know what the book was trying to do, but not all men are completely arrogant and self-obsessed like the men portrayed in this book, and I would have liked to see this a bit more.

I can definitely see how some people may really take to this book, but for me the irritation was just too much for me to properly settle into the plot, no matter how much I liked Amy and the other ladies.

My rating: 2Average rating: 3.90
416 pages. Published in: 2020
Read in Audiobookon 18th-20th August 2020

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