Read Women Write 2014/15: Book 24: Paige Nick: A Million Miles from Normal

fiction, women, south africa, south african, Paige Nick, New York
A Million Miles from Normal

Sometimes life fucks you. That’s probably the understatement of the century, and I suppose it’s a bit crass, but it’s the truth. Plain and simple. So when it does your immediate options are generally:

1) Remain in a heap on the floor and cry, indefinitely, whilst attached to an IV drip of nutella and wine; and

2) Run away.

A Million Miles from Normal is about the second option, although it does involve a fair amount of wine too. It’s only natural. It follows the story of Rachel Marcus, who was a high-flying ad exec who reaches a situation where you has to pursue option 2 (above). In style she pursues it all the way to New York, land of overpriced apartments and a lack of Five Roses Tea. There she seeks out a new life to replace the old one she left behind.

Reading it felt like reading some of my favourite authors for this type of story – Marion Keyes, Fiona Walker etc. Rachel is a little like Bridget Jones, but with a South African disposition and humour, and better balance. She’s a person who has clearly experienced something extremely difficult, and is not fully on the mend emotionally at the time we meet her, but she is trying damn hard and she is doing it with wine and good shoes. Her choices in men are a bit suspect, as are all the men in the story with the exception of Brian, her neighbour’s husband. I liked how strong the bond between Rachel and Sue was, and how ultimately they rescue one another rather than being rescued by any of the male characters.

The contrast between the real life of working a shit job and living in a shit apartment and the glamour of the ad world that you normally see or imagine was great. I also had never thought much about the poor people who have to write adverts about socks before, but when next I see one I will clap for their effort.

A Million Miles from Normal is light, funny and entertaining. Nick is a South African writer, who has released two fiction novels, written a million columns also available in book form, and who will have a new book out in 2016. She’s also part of the famous trio that are responsible for the Girl Walks In series.