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Lies, lies and love

Shelley Weiner's new, enjoyable light comedy marred by editing flaws

    After some heavy scene-setting, The Audacious Mendacity of Lily Green by Shelley Weiner (Caffeine Nights, £8.99), gets better as it goes on. Late-developer daughter, 34, a disappointment to her widowed mother, decides to end her dead-end, suburban life.

    Her journey, after a fictitious engagement, takes her to a dragon-like landlady in Kilburn, a job in a news office producing horoscopes and agony columns — and a dodgy boyfriend. But the lies that constitute Lily Green’s “audacious mendacity” are sweet dreams compared to the reality of her mother’s and boyfriend’s formative years.

    Much of the humour lies in parodying the advice given in women’s magazines to gullible girls. But when Lily herself is tempted by a JC ad for speed dating for over-30s, her courage fails her at the Soho entrance. However, the book is strong on etiquette and underwear and her sexual initiation is described with admirable clarity and lack of fuss.

    In a book so firmly grounded in the London street and tube map, how on earth does Shepherd’s Bush turn into Shepherd’s Hill, miles away in Highgate? One hopes that, when working in Panton Street, Lily soon realises she should travel to Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus station, not Holborn.Even in rush hour it does not take an hour by taxi from Soho to Kilburn. And a new culinary term has been invented in “peels of laughter”.

    Irritating but small slips that shouldn’t spoil your light-hearted enjoyment.

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