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Publisher's Summary

Jean Collins had two daughters. But she only loved one of them. She knew it was wrong, but she just couldn't help herself. Jess was a little sweetheart, everyone said so. Anne was awkward and serious and not much fun, to be frank.

But now the years have passed. Jess is missing - run off long ago, no one knows where or why. So when Jean is left in a coma after a road accident, it's Anne who travels back up north to sit at her mother's bedside. And she wonders - why did Jean dash out into the road without looking? What distracted her? And why was she carrying a box of vanilla slices, the cream cakes she only ever bought for extra special occasions? Meanwhile there are secrets waiting for Anne and Jean, back at the old family home. Secrets that were buried a long time ago...

©2013 Jenny Eclair (P)2013 Hachette Digital

Critic Reviews

"Of course it's funny, but it's also dark, honest and totally compulsive reading" (Jenny Colgan)
"Very dark and very funny. I had it glued to my face until I'd finished it" (Jo Brand)

What listeners say about Life, Death and Vanilla Slices

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  • Heather
  • 18-08-2014

I laughed, I cried

What did you love best about Life, Death and Vanilla Slices?

Loved this audiobook. Narration was brilliant. I actually laughed out loud a few times as I could relate to Ann's character.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved it all!!

Which character – as performed by Jenny Eclair – was your favorite?

Definitely Ann.

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  • Saffy
  • 30-09-2013

Funny, sad and insightful

Well this is definitely the funniest, saddest, most insightful book I have listened to this year. It's the kind of book I want to share with all my friends and I want to start listening to all over again! I read and enjoyed Jenny Eclair's 'Camberwell Beauty' many years ago - it's been a long wait for this and it's even better than her debut. I consumed this book greedily over 24 hours and really did not want it to end. Jenny's writing is so insightful, she perfectly captures the two worlds of contemporary middle class south Londoners and working class Lancashire life in the 1960/70s. Jenny Eclair narrates this so well- I was so drawn into the story and loved both of the main characters. If you fancy something different from the current obsession with psychological drama or predictable chick-lit, listen to this. Be prepared to laugh, cry and be immensely moved by Jean and Anne's stories.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 24-02-2014

A thoroughly enjoyable read

I thoroughly enjoyed this amusing and touching story. Brilliantly narrated by the author, the book shares the viewpoints of a mother and two, very different, daughters. A very well observed story of generations and their ambitions. I highly recommend this book and the twist at the end is lovely.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jill
  • 03-01-2014

Life, Death and Vanilla Slices

What made the experience of listening to Life, Death and Vanilla Slices the most enjoyable?

A really enjoyable book. It made me laugh and cry. I just could not stop listening to it

What did you like best about this story?

One if the main characters is the same age as me and I could see myself . I love listening to stories where you see things from different points of view

What about Jenny Eclair’s performance did you like?

It would not have been as good if it had been read by anybody else.

Any additional comments?

Wonderful story

2 people found this helpful

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  • SCR
  • 07-08-2015

ENJOYABLE - BUT RUSHED ENDING

Where does Life, Death and Vanilla Slices rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

On the whole I enjoyed listening to this book and really enjoyed Jenny Eclair's narration. The first two thirds of the book had great description and painted a vivid picture of the characters and their lives - but the last third was less so and there were a number of unexplained outcomes. This is probably for the listener to imagine what happened to the surviving characters - but it seemed strange to invest so much time describing them, to then not let us know what happened

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I'd have included an epilogue about Anne's return; the outcome of the sons' party, what the husband and paternal grandmother might have come back to.

Which character – as performed by Jenny Eclair – was your favourite?

Jess

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Birth of Simon

Any additional comments?

Looking forward to the next listen

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ninamm
  • 02-12-2013

Laughter and tears

What made the experience of listening to Life, Death and Vanilla Slices the most enjoyable?

I loved the narration.

What other book might you compare Life, Death and Vanilla Slices to, and why?

It was a bit like Dear Silvia by Dawn French, but better. Similar coma storyline.

What does Jenny Eclair bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

She gives great personality and emotion to the story and characters.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The childbirth bit had me in tears on a packed 6pm train home from Paddington! I had been laughing on the 7am train on the way in to town that morning!

Any additional comments?

Loved this book, really enjoyed the story, really enjoyed the narration and would recomend it to anyone who loved Dawn French's A Tiny Bit Marvellous.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Sandra
  • 09-11-2013

Fantastic right to the end!

Touching, funny, sad, shocks and surprises - absolutely enjoyed every bit of it! For me, I always take a while to get comfy with the narrator and it was the case here too but Jenny was brililant. Certainly made you question yourself as a mum and daughter! Highly recommended - promise you'll love it!

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  • hmsweeney
  • 13-12-2013

I loved this book

What made the experience of listening to Life, Death and Vanilla Slices the most enjoyable?

I really like it when the author reads their own book. Jenny Eclair read it brilliantly. The storyline was very enjoyable...made mr laugh out loud and tears in my eyes at other times

Who was your favorite character and why?

Ann in some ways as she always tended to do the right thing

Which character – as performed by Jenny Eclair – was your favourite?

Jess was hilarious in some of her interactions with Ann

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I listen when I run so it is great to look forward to the next installments

Any additional comments?

Fully recommend this book

2 people found this helpful

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  • wendy Howe
  • 02-09-2021

A well written narrative.

Loved this book as it was so full of detail you could easily imagine the characters, you felt you knew them. Jenny Eclair reading it enhanced the experience. It is a poignant tale, with emotional integrity, written in a way that you have to keep reading on to find out more about these people's lives. Smatterings of Ms Eclair's perfectly timed comic view of life adds to the enjoyment.

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  • M C.
  • 15-07-2021

Again! I can’t believe how invested I was 💖💖

Jenny Will surprise you. Again. With a slow transition through the character profiles of normal every day folk. You wonder where on earth could this be going? And then you realise you’ve been listening for hours and you need to know……….
Perfectly detailed characters all likeable, hate-able and relate-able. Wisdom, heartbreak, surprising plots with a scattering of comedic irony and beautiful imagery of British life over the decades. All wrapped up in your own breathy gasp of “what, ohhhh…?”
You’ll see both yourself and your nemesis somewhere in this cleverly knitted narrative of the north-south divide, mums and daughters, men and women, rich and poor and the very mess of life itself. I just love my Aunty Jenny.

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  • Whitelady
  • 07-07-2021

Undecided

There were so many things about this novel that I enjoyed, I think because I grew up in Lancashire during the 70s and the historical details and the characters were really relatable and realistic. Sadly it was badly let down for me by some really twee moments and the appalling narration. Why do publishers/authors think it is a good idea to have the author read their own work? I had to speed it up to get through it and only kept going because I really cared about Jean. Narration is a skill and can make or break an audiobook. Please, please leave it to the professionals.

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