Inconceivable by Ben Elton

In 2017 I received a message from a friend who was travelling overseas. They sent me a picture of this book and wrote,

‘Reading this. V funny. One of the characters reminds me of you.’

They were in Costa Rica at the time, and shortly heading for Easter Island. When I caught up with them in the flesh the following summer, I picked the book off their shelf and asked if I could borrow it.

It is falling apart, is dog-eared, stained, watermarked, and grains of sand would fall out from between the fraying pages as I read it. Having travelled all the way to Easter Island, I took great lengths to look after it, and it now sits on my shelf, (definitely its least exotic location), until I can return it.

I hadn’t read Ben Elton’s fiction before, though I’m familiar with his television work. Inconceivable is so funny and easy to get along with. If you like British comedies like Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually then you will definitely enjoy this book. I was snorting out loud at the scenes on Primrose Hill, and the depiction of working at the BBC is laughably similar to the much more recent W1A comedy series.

Although the subject matter is fertility and IVF, it is in no way alienating if this has no immediate relevance to your life. The book extends beyond this material as an overarching, witty exploration of relationships. It is also not to be pigeonholed as a woman’s book about wanting babies. It is written by a man, was recommended to me by a man, and fertility is very much dealt with as the shared experience that it is.

I loved this book and I’ll happily take being compared to Lucy as a compliment, (at least I assume it was Lucy, I never did ask…)