Review: How To Fake Being Tidy by Fenella Souter

Title: How To Fake Being Tidy: and other things my mother never taught me.

Author: Fenella Souter

Published: 30th March 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read April 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin


My Thoughts:

How To Fake Being Tidy: and other things my mother never taught me from feature writer, Fenella Souter (who also uses the non de plume Dusty Miller), is an essay collection primarily comprised of columns first published in the Australian newspapers, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Housework definitely not being my thing (I admit I prefer Erma Bombeck’s advice to Marie Kondo’s), I was lured by the title of this book, but was disappointed to discover that Souter doesn’t actually offer tips to fake being tidy.

This is not a how-to guide, it’s a collection of genteel, undemanding stories that centres around the domestic. Souter does offer some simple household management tips, like how to remove labels from jars, wine stains from fabric, and how to organise your linen cupboard, but the essays are generally less prescriptive and more ruminative, reflecting on the pleasure of crisp bedsheets, the trials of holding your own against a tradie, or relocating a beehive, for example.

A number of the essays also focus on food. Souter appears to be an accomplished cook, with sophisticated tastes and a generous budget. She includes a variety of recipes offered within the context of the essay’s, including those for Orange Marmalade, Broccomole, Hummus with Spiced Lamb, and Passionfruit Creams, to name a few.

There were a handful of essays that resonated with me, but as a whole, I feel the collection is rather bland, reflecting a rather white, upper middle class perspective, and would likely have more appeal for the ‘boomer’ generation than mine. 


Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    Apr 06, 2021 @ 18:52:02

    I like the title, too. Pity the book doesn’t quite deliver on its promise…

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Stephanie - Bookfever
    Apr 06, 2021 @ 21:34:30

    Too bad it was a bit disappointing 😦

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
    Apr 06, 2021 @ 23:07:58

    Unfortunately that was one of the things my mother did teach me…I’m probably the tidiest person on the planet. So I wouldn’t have picked up the book for the title, and now, after hearing your thoughts, I won’t pick the book up at all. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies
    Apr 07, 2021 @ 01:25:11

    Too bad the book didn’t live up to the title — because a book that really was a how-to on how to fake being tidy would be a must for me!



  5. sherry fundin (@sherryfundin)
    Apr 07, 2021 @ 01:46:07

    the title cracked me up. i used to drive myself crazy trying to keep a clean house. as i got older, and mr wonderful kept telling me to relax, i began to think…no one will notice that dust as long as i don’t bother it, i find myself much happier.
    sherry @ fundinmental

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Verushka, an editor (@SydneyEditor1)
    Apr 07, 2021 @ 21:10:08

    Definitely a great title and one I would have picked up myself — pity it didn’t work out.

    Liked by 1 person


  7. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  8. Jen at Introverted Reader
    Apr 13, 2021 @ 01:02:46

    I think I’m average on the scale of tidiness but my sister skews more toward chaos. I thought this might be a book for her but I see that it’s not. Sorry it didn’t work better for you.

    Liked by 1 person


  9. stacybuckeye
    Apr 14, 2021 @ 03:18:41

    I’m with Erma in the tidying department 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


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