Fig Tree, £12.99. Order for £11.69 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030

Mutton, By India Knight

 

“I  don’t believe in aging,” wrote Virginia Woolf when she hit 50. “I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun.” Clara Hutt, the peri-menopausal heroine of India Knight’s latest novel, favours a less philosophical approach.

For one thing, she’s not comfortable with the appearance of a trans-brow wrinkle, and she’s still in hock to biology – and in search of a mate: “It’s as crude and basic as that.”

Readers of Knight’s previous romantic comedies, My Life on a Plate and Comfort and Joy, will already be familiar with the dating and family complications of single mother and magazine writer Clara Hutt. Now fully installed in the second half of her life, Clara is alarmed to find herself going “oof” when she sinks into a chair and being ignored by young waiters.

Matters come to a head when newly divorced best friend Gaby returns from California and moves in with her. Gaby is no stranger to cosmetic intervention, but Clara’s not sure if she dares follow suit. And so begins her own midlife crisis and a struggle to straddle the dangerous sartorial divide between “tragic cougar” and “older hottie”.

In comparison with middle-aged male shag-quests, Knight’s novel is an admirably slim-line affair. And unlike fellow-columnist Jane Shilling’s recent elegiac account of life after 45, it won’t drive you to leap off the nearest bridge. Instead, Knight cheers us up with caustic observations and flashes of schoolgirl hilarity as her fictional alter ego valiantly resists her inclination to lie about in a “onesie eating cheese” and instead joins Gaby on a Big Night Out, kicking off with cocktails at Claridge’s.

Such a tale of Harley Street makeovers and matronly madness has all the makings of a Fay Weldon-esque morality tale. But Knight’s fiction has more in common with the Nora Ephron school of novelistic journalism. Nailing with wit and intelligence the demanding art of being a woman, Knight consoles and entertains with a slice of feminism-lite. Clara’s romantic star rises dramatically, but as ever in Knight’s universe, it’s a constellation of friends and family that bathes our heroine in the most flattering light of all.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935