The Stag and Hen Weekend by Mike Gayle
When I heard that Mike Gayle was releasing a book that would be approaching male and female view points, allowing you to read the book whatever way you wanted, I was immediately interested to see how a man would think a woman would think, particularly at such an monumental time as her hen weekend.
So when a copy of “The Stag and Hen Weekend” arrived at my door, I delved straight in, deciding to read Phil’s side of the story first.
Phil and his friends are off to Amsterdam for his stag weekend. What was planned as a weekend of drinking, fun and frolics turns out to be a weekend of revelations and new discoveries, when Phil gets talking to a beautiful woman who turns out to be the ex-wife of of his fiancée’s ex-boyfriend. Aidan Reid, celebrity radio DJ, who broke Helen’s heart and breaks Phil’s, when Sanne reveals that her marriage ended because of Helen.
It seems that Aidan isn’t over Helen and Phil fears that Helen may feel the same, especially since he had asked her to marry him so many times before she finally said yes. Whilst Phil tries to enjoy the weekend, it’s hard especially when he finds out that Aidan is going to be staying at the same spa as Helen, in a bid to win her back and then he begins to enjoy Sanne’s company, which makes things even more complicated for the distraught man.
Meanwhile Helen is trying to enjoy her hen weekend but she can’t relax when her ex keeps popping up and her sister-in-law seems to hate her. What was meant to the perfect weekend has turned into a nightmare for Helen as she struggles with feelings that she thought were long gone, but are now raising their ugly head.
The interesting and unusual thing about this book is that it has two different covers, so it doesn’t matter where you start. I discovered that once I finished reading Phil’s outlook on life, I then just had to turn the book upside for Helen’s. It almost feels that you are getting two books for the price of one!
I knew this was going to be an interesting read but more than anything I was intrigued to see how Mike would write as a female character. I thought he adapted to the role and emotions quite well, so much so that I began to empathise with poor Helen. Although I enjoyed Helen and her mixed emotions, I found that I enjoyed Phil more. This may because he was more likeable than Helen or because I felt like I had returned to Amsterdam as they travelled around the sights.
As the story is written from both sides, it is interesting to see how the partners deal with their last single weekend before they make a commitment to one another. As Phil is devoted to Helen and can never see her not in his life, whereas Helen does love him and that is obvious but she doesn’t seem to have given him her whole heart which can occasionally make for sad reading as she struggles with mixed emotions.
“The Stag and Hen Weekend” is a unique story, filled with quirky off-beat characters who all seemed to have gone away on their perspective weekends to have escaped their troubles only for them to have followed them hot on their heels. Although the main characters of the story are addictive characters, I have to admit that my favourite character would have to be Caitlin, Phil’s sister, who is incredibly bitchy and vain and seizes every opportunity she can get to make a dig at Helen. Mike has managed to create the ultimate bitchy girl that all of us females would detest. As the story can be read from the front to back or the back to front, dependent on whose side you want to read, I felt that the ending wasn’t completely conclusive and I longed to read more, but then again on a happier note maybe Mike is leaving it open to an sequel.
An addictive read from start to finish, it is an bumpy ride as we join Helen and Phil on their adventures as they make the most of their freedom whilst learning a few home truths about one another as they discover that the path of true love never runs smoothly. Filled to the brim with vibrant characters and one-liners, Mike Gayle brings a breath of fresh air to the chick-lit genre.
You can buy The Stag and Hen Weekend on Amazon and other good bookshops.