Reading Down Under

Me, Myself and I by Pip Karmel

The concept of this novel may seem a bit strange and perhaps even off-putting but it is carried out with impressive ability. Pamela Drury is the definition of a working woman, putting relationships on the back burner for so long that she now fears she will never find love. What’s worse is that the older she gets, the more she regrets turning down her university boyfriend, Robert Dickinson, who’s proposal she turned down thirteen years ago. Pamela feels worn out and craves proof that she made the right choice when instead she gets hit by a car being driven by her doppleganger. The two women are absolutely identical and when the other Pamela takes her back to her home, Pamela Drury discovers that this Pamela did marry Robert and has been married to him ever since, with three children in toe. In a moment however, Pamela Dickinson vanishes and Pamela Drury is left behind, with all her double’s responsibilities left behind. Pamela discovers how her other self is no longer a hardcore journalist but makes ends meet by writing for women’s glossy magazines while Robert goes into the city to work. Her children are serious handfuls a piece but Pamela is utterly overjoyed at being Robert’s wife, initially feeling that she has found the life she should have had all along.
The story sounds quite silly when you explain it but within the novel there is very little sense of disbelief. The fact that the two Pamela’s interact with each other very little keeps the “talking to yourself” banter to a bare minimum and means you can focus far more on the interesting aspect of Pamela trying to fit into a life that is-hers-but-not-quite. The pacing is good, although I felt the book overall to be quite short. This could be because this book has also been made into a film and, as the author is a screen writer first, that could explain how quickly the story moves forwards.
What impresses me the most about this book is it’s ability to make the difference between choices that are “right” and “wrong” and choices that are simply choices. This is the books main focus and it brings the message home with impressive ability. With Pamela realizing that there are good and bad aspects of both Pamela’s lives we realise that there are always going to be choices we may want to go back on. The sheer difference between the two worlds is also impressive and I would have liked to have learned more about why Ben’s fiance gets killed in Dickinson’s world but not Drury’s, why her best friend is married in one life and happily single in the other but I suppose the time it would have taken to explain that would totally take away from the world (as well as requiring a hefty amount of exposition).
My final issue with the book is that I never fully believed that Pamela was 35. At times she seemed so much younger but that is coming from the lips of a 22-year-old so I don’t really have much experience being in the mindset of a 35 year old. Certainly Dury is free of responsibilities and is quite childish about facing up to things that must be done so perhaps her seeming younger was intentional to show her need to mature. Overall I really enjoyed this book and will be looking out for the film, perhaps to compare the two!

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