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Standard Deviation by Katharine Heiny

So, fair to say that Standard Deviation by Katharine Heiny generated some lively discussion and some differences of opinion! Described as “brilliantly funny” and “compelling” on the cover, it’s a novel about the day-to-day challenges and minutiae of everyday life and marriage, of parenting, of raising a child with Asperger’s, of the politics of the playground, of neighbourhood gossip and of friendships. Audra is Graham’s second wife, a non-stop expressive talker who likes to share, knows everyone and gets involved in everything. She says what she thinks, is prone to inviting strangers for dinner and is generally a whirlwind to live with. When she befriends Graham’s first wife Elspeth, who couldn’t be more different, Graham starts to wonder how he could marry such different women and whether there is any such thing as the right choice. 

On the face of it, a book where the day to day carries you along and nothing really happens, but that I think, is sort of the point. It’s much more of an observation about life than it is a plot-driven page-turner, and the characterisation and style of writing reflect that. On the other hand there were moments of poignancy and insight which I would have liked to have seen developed more. A bit of a marmite book for our group – the humour didn’t work for all of us, and, although it hit a real chord with some, for others it failed to live up to the blurb.

Overall score: 5.4

Range: 3 – 8

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