Liz, the mother at the centre of Are We Having Fun Yet?, juggles two small children, a job, a teenage boss, a nemesis on the parent–teacher association, a broken dishwasher and Richard, her hapless husband. It’s unsurprising that she’s permanently exhausted.
The narrative in Lucy Mangan’s debut takes the form of a series of diary entries spread over a year, with the tone set from the first one: ‘Wednesday, 4 January ... We have overslept. It’s good to start the new day – and in this case a new term and a new year – with a familiar failure, I think. Eases you back into routine.’ Meanwhile, Richard emerges, ‘freshly suited and booted’ and on hand to dispense ‘fatherly wisdom’ to Thomas, who is seven and sensitive, and Evie, who is five and calls him ‘Fat Dad’.
The reader will hope for some sense of character development or plot twist, but apart from taking up swimming and standing up for herself a bit better, Liz remains much the same, Mangan drawing drama from everyday domestic difficulties rather than anything more substantial. Her writing zings with