Don’t Get Me Wrong by Marianne Kavanagh (audiobook)

In brief: Kim and Eva are sisters, but they’re very different people. For starters, Kim has no idea what Eva sees in Harry, who she claims is just a friend… But when things in life go awry and all Harry and Kim have is each other, will they work together?

The good: Once I got into the story, I was very invested in Kim’s life.

The not-so-good: I didn’t like it at first, at the timeline seemed to be jumping around and between characters. Once it settled into Kim’s voice, I enjoyed it.

Why I chose it: Received an eARC from Text Publishing, bought the audiobook.

Year: 2015

Duration: 9 hours 27 minutes (book is 352 pages)

Narrator: Colleen Prendergast

Publisher: Text Publishing

Setting: Predominantly England

Rating: 7 out of 10

I can’t remember why I picked this book (and later audiobook) – whether it was from someone else’s review, cover love or it just looked interesting. I finished listening to the audio almost two weeks ago and I’m still debating as to how much I enjoyed this book. I really liked the ending when everything came together. Early on in the story when timelines were changing and I couldn’t remember who Kim was and who Eva was, I debated whether I should continue. Somewhere in the middle, everything clicked together and I understood who was who and what they were up to. Then I could enjoy the story. I don’t think it was the fault of the narrator (Colleen Prendergast was great, she has a lovely voice and makes male voices sound non-idiotic) and I can’t really tell if it was the writing (not having seen it) or me.

Perhaps one of the things that clouded my judgement with this novel was that I was expecting a light romance or chick lit type book. Perhaps I was making assumptions that rainbow lettering and a London skyline meant for light reading. Don’t Get Me Wrong is difficult to categorise. It’s more general fiction, focusing on family relationships and finding your own path in life. The main character is Kim, who is less of a free spirit than her sister Eva, having dutifully completed university and now looking for a sustainable, world enriching job. She gets a job in housing for the homeless, where we meet the Most Annoying Character ever in Jake. (The narrator absolutely nails his whiny, whinging nasal voice). Unknown to Eva, Jake has a habit of making his juniors his own in and out of the boardroom. Meanwhile, Eva’s friend Harry and Kim have an ongoing prickly relationship. He winds her up and Kim bites back. She doesn’t understand what Eva sees in Harry, even though Eva continually tells Kim it’s a platonic relationship. It’s kind of odd that Kim doesn’t get it over the years, but she is certain that Harry and Eva are lovers. It may be that Harry is always willing to rescue the sisters financially (their parents are disgustingly awful) and is a generous soul, not having much of that as a child himself.

Sadly for Kim, things go wrong all at once and she’s left with nothing of her own life. You would expect her to turn to Harry, but she doesn’t. Here the narrative gets a bit morose until disaster strikes again. Then the finale that been hinted at happens. It was a bit of an odd lead up for me, maybe because it didn’t follow the traditional trajectory. It was like I thought I knew the characters, but then I didn’t because they had all been hiding something and then things didn’t happen as I expected. Neither of these are bad, but it just didn’t quite weld together seamlessly. I think the way the information was delivered – a bit here, a bit there – broke up the character knowledge so that I was seeing them as bits rather than a whole or as real people. Hence things didn’t quite pack the emotional punch. Once I got to know Kim, I was interested in the story. The unconventional plot was interesting, but just didn’t quite form a gorgeous story for me.

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