Married; children: three.
Home—London, England. Agent—Simon Trewin, PFD Drury House, 34-43 Russell St., London WC2B 5HA, England.
Times magazine, London, England, features writer and author of ‘Slummy Mummy’ column; formerly assistant editor. Worked as features editor of Marie Claire magazine.
Slummy Mummy (novel), Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Fiona Neill's first novel, Slummy Mummy, chronicles the comic misadventures of Lucy Sweeney, the persona Neill created for her ‘Slummy Mummy’ column in the London Times weekly magazine supplement. Lucy is a former television news producer, now a stay-at-home mother of three boys, living in an affluent section of London. She is no supermom, though. She is heavily in debt and has to hide credit card bills from her husband, Tom, who is often away on business. Her house is a mess, with laundry piled three feet high, and she has been known to lose not only keys but cars. She has little time to spend on her appearance, and sometimes is still in her pajamas when she drives her children to school. She envies mothers who manage to be well groomed and seem to have everything under control. Her life threatens to become more out-of-control than ever, however, when mutual attraction develops between her and a man whose child attends school with hers. While Lucy considers the possibilities with this man, whom she nicknames ‘Sexy Domesticated Dad,’ her single-women friends try to remind her of Tom's many good qualities.
The book is an example of what publishers call ‘mom lit’ or ‘mummy lit,’ books aimed at women with children and busy lives. ‘Mummy-lit is what happens when chick-lit grows up … as the fiction of single-dom makes way for the fiction of motherdom,’ explained Susie Mesure in London's Independent newspaper. Mesure and some other observers described Lucy Sweeney as a successor to a popular single-woman character, the eponymous heroine of Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding. ‘Like Bridget Jones before her,’ noted a Publishers Weekly contributor, Lucy ‘is an endearing everywoman prone to disaster."
This reviewer and some others found Slummy Mummy a praiseworthy example of ‘mom lit,’ displaying both humor and heart. In Library Journal, Amy Brozio-Andrews reported that ‘Neill's book is a comedy of manners touching on fidelity, identity, family, and friendship,’ while Patty Engelmann, writing in Booklist, called the novel ‘funny yet sympathetic.’ A Kirkus Reviews critic thought Slummy Mummy ‘feels mass-manufactured,’ with a ‘too-familiar plot,’ but nonetheless dubbed Neill ‘a sound writer adroitly producing spot-on dialog and a few hilarious moments.’ The Publishers Weekly reviewer deemed the story's ending too pat, but found this flaw outweighed by the book's merits, including the author's ‘delight in and empathy for her characters.’ On the whole, the reviewer added, Slummy Mummy is a ‘crackling-with-wit debut."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July 1, 2007, Patty Engelmann, review of Slummy Mummy, p. 30.
Books, June 2, 2007, Kristin Kloberdanz, review of Slummy Mummy, p. 8.
Bookseller, February 3, 2006, ‘Elton Signs Slummy Mummy,’ p. 13.
Independent (London, England), June 3, 2007, Susie Mesure, ‘‘Slummy Mummy’ Crosses Atlantic to Melt Ice Queen's Heart."
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2007, review of Slummy Mummy.
Library Journal, June 1, 2007, Amy Brozio-Andrews, review of Slummy Mummy, p. 111.
Marie Claire, August 2007, review of Slummy Mummy, p. 104.
Publishers Weekly, April 23, 2007, review of Slummy Mummy, p. 27.