Book Review - Dutch Courage

by Paige Nick (Penguin) ISBN: 9781415200703

‘Dutch courage’ is an interesting idiom, generally accepted to mean giving oneself false confidence by drinking alcohol before one does something awfully stupid or stupidly awful. Paige Nick’s newest protagonist, Grace, becomes the epitome of this, through a series of bad decisions that find her performing as a Rihanna impersonator…in a strip club…in the red light district…in Amsterdam…travelling on her sister’s passport. 

Paige Nick applies her signature biting wit and plays it for the comedy, creating a crazy romp filled with hilarious caricatures and Grace’s inner running commentary. Under that innocent exterior, Grace has a survivor-instinct, which mercifully protects her from some of the darker aspects of the situation she’s got herself into. Sadly, though, she has blinkers when it comes to her manipulative sister and controlling boyfriend. 

It’s a fun read, with lots of laughs and cynical commentary. Paige Nick fans will love it. I found it all a little superficial – a series of cameo performances, amusing scenes and dramatic moments floating aimlessly around an empty heart. 

Judy Ward


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This way up

by Paige Nick (Penguin) ISBN: 978-0-14-352755-8


Paige Nick is a regular columnist for the Lifestyle section of the Sunday Times. This Way Up is her second novel.


The story bumbles along. Conservative Stella dreams of becoming a feature writer. She wants to escape the Dr Dee column she has penned for two years, two months and nine hours, answering the letters of ‘deranged’ and ‘retarded’ people about their sexual problems.


Her life unravels when she tells a little white lie to her family. This lie snowballs, causing an avalanche in her life. Stella finds herself in unfamiliar territory when she has no home, her marriage is falling apart and her twin sister refuses to speak to her.


Stella’s story is in contrast to Poppy, who is travelling the world with her best friend, Buck. Poppy is young and adventurous and it is appears that Nick uses this story as a comparison between two different lives. This comparison is contrived and confusing.


The book is about family bonds and that despite bad things happening, it is just a phase and things will end up the way they should.


Nick tries to be humorous but fails to deliver.


This Way Up does not quite make it in the Bridget Jones’ Diary or Eat, Pray, Lovecalibre. It may appeal to people who are leading dead end lives.


Ulrike Hill


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