Mother’s tale strikes chord with all parents

Author Christina Hopkinson talks about her new book - a novel about domestic strife

AUTHOR Christina Hopkinson has published a book about the trials and tribulations of bringing up children that will strike a chord with parents across the borough.

Her novel takes this most universal subject – parenthood and the strain it puts on a relationship – and pushes it to the extreme.

The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs tells the story of a mother of two young children who gets so fed up with her slovenly husband that she decides to take action – by keeping a spreadsheet of all his misdeeds.

The 41-year-old, of Lambert Street, Islington, says: “It’s about a disgruntled mother-of-two called Mary, who feels she can’t get on top of the domestic chaos in her life – and blames her husband. She creates a spreadsheet of everything he does to annoy her and gives him six months to prove he’s an asset. She records the good things as well – but there are many more bad things.”

Christina had two kids herself when she started the book – and now has three – but she insists it is not autobiographical, and her husband is not nearly as messy as the father character. “I wouldn’t advocate writing a spreadsheet of everything your partner does to annoy you as marriage therapy,” she adds.

She describes the book as “women’s contemporary fiction”, but bristles at any mention of the tag “chick lit”.

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“It’s a bit reductive,” she says. “It’s applied to any book by a woman that is not highbrow – in a way that doesn’t seem to happen with men.”

The mother-of-three, whose children go to Thornhill Primary School, in Thornhill Road, has lived in Barnsbury for seven years and says she never wants to leave.

She has always wanted to be a writer and has a background in journalism – at one point working as a sub editor on Hello! in Madrid, Spain, where the magazine is produced.

These days she spends her time penning her next book and looking after her kids. Her husband, meanwhile, is a divorce lawyer – which can be helpful. She says: “The sort of person who goes into family law is someone who is quite interested in relationships, so I can talk ideas and plots through with him.”

The Pile of Stuff has garnered a flurry of positive reviews since its publication and Christina has been delighted by the reaction. “It’s got people talking a lot,” she adds. “The topic of domestic equality one that provokes a lot of debate.”