Our Tiny, Useless Hearts by Toni Jordan

Caroline is married to Henry.
Henry is having an affair with Martha.
Caroline and Henry’s neighbours are Lesley and Craig.
Caroline is having an affair with Craig.
Janice is Caroline’s sister.
Alec is Janice’s ex-husband. Janice still loves him, it seems.
Alec springs Janice and Craig in bed together (nothing happened).
Lesley has had enough of Craig.
Lesley announces she’s sleeping with Alec.
And then things descend from there.

I’ve kind of told you some of what happens but by all means, go ahead and read Toni Jordan’s latest, Our Tiny, Useless Hearts, for her droll one-liners that poke-fun at the middle-class, middle-aged set. Also worth your time are Janice’s micro-biology-related-insights about life and love that provide a neat and rational balance to the others antics –

“Love colonises your whole body. The symptoms of love are caused by your autonomic nervous system doing its finest work – responding to the infection. Love is not something you think about, that you can reason yourself into or out of. Do you breathe with your conscious mind? Do you decide to send enzymes from your liver or knowingly control the heart valves as they open and close? Then why would anyone assume that reason can manage something as important as love?”

“The human gut does lots of thinking and why shouldn’t it? Billions of organised bacteria live there, lots of them going about their day making neurotransmitters that change the way we think and feel. A billion heads are better than one.”

The book is a comedy of errors and with all of the hiding half-dressed behind doors, sneaking in and out of rooms and scuttling down balconies, the action feels written for the stage rather than the page. While I found it obviously implausible (I guess all good farces are) and lacking the charm the Jordan’s Addition, I’m sure that chick-lit lovers and fans of authors such as Liane Moriarghty will enjoy this book (note that Jordan does suburban-snark far better than Moriarty).

2.5/5 Not for me but don’t let my opinion put you off.

Lesley, referring to Alec –

“Once, I sucked him off as we were going through the McDonald’s drive thru. And then I had a Quarter Pounder and large chips.”
“Oh Lesley,” says Craig, “Think of all the trans-fats.”


12 responses

    • Jordan appeals to my sense of humour, mostly because she pokes fun at exactly all of the stereotypes I live/ live among.
      I listened to this one as an audiobook, read by Caroline Lee who also happens to narrate many of Moriarty’s books, which is probably why the comparison came to mind.

    • In your review you highlight an important point about Jordan – that she creates terrific but unconventional heroines. I didn’t love this one as much as Addition but it did have some excellent one-liners.

  1. I haven’t heard of this book. The blurb alone confused me. Sounds like everyone is having an affair. It does sound interesting though not a genre that I have ever read.

    • Well yes, basically everyone is having an affair (in the style of a true farce). I’m not convinced about farces in novels (as opposed to stage plays) but this one certainly had its funny moments.

    • It’s a true farce – you know when you watch a play and in one sense it’s rather one dimensional – one scene and a bunch of characters running on and off stage? This book is very much like that – takes place in one house over the course of a weekend. There are some bits that drag a little because the action has to be described rather than seen but Jordan has some excellent one-liners.

  2. Jordan’s first book, Addition was one of my favourite books. I tend to forget about it when I do my ‘faves’ listings but I loved the voice of the lead character. I didn’t know she had a new book out. I do recall reading her second book however.

  3. Wow I had to read the relationship/affair rundown about three times to get it straight. I think my mind would explode trying to keep track of everyone if I read this book.

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