Book review: So Your Girlfriend’s a Vegetarian by Adam Shaw

By Emma Brooks

The first novel of a friend of mine, and fellow graduate of the University of Nottingham, So your girlfriend’s a vegetarian? is a great read.

I first discovered the novel by being invited to join a fan group on Facebook, and found the title somewhat intriguing. A book about vegetarians? No thanks! A couple of years later, Adam arrives in Geneva, book in hand, and I can’t resist asking for a copy to see what it’s all about. As it turned out, I couldn’t put down the book and finished it in a couple of days, later recommending it to everyone.

The book starts off brilliantly, the main character discovering to his delight that there is a naked girl in his bed. Immediately, we feel we can identify with the incredulous J who reminds us a little of our university-self: party hard, enjoy the best things in life and wake up wondering “what on earth happened last night”?

As the book carries on, we follow J through his day-to-day life: work, housemates, parties and romance. It sounds simple and that’s because it is, but it also means we can identify with J practically all the way through the book. Who hasn’t had a housemate/flat-mate experience, who hasn’t been unhappy with their job or had some colleagues that have become good friends, and most of all, who hasn’t fallen in love and then had their heartbroken?

The simplicity of J’s life is precisely what makes the novel such a good read, as we are eager to find out what happens to him and what situations he gets himself into. If you have sometimes been in the position where you think “am I the only one feeling this, am I the only one who this happens to?” then J’s story is a nice reminder that no, you are not alone, and in fact it happens to the best of us.

Once again, we get to explore familiar locations such as London, traveling with J and visualizing the city as he goes from home, to work, to meetings, to nights out with friends in locations we could all have been to ourselves. But if you have an adventurous streak in you, the type who likes travelling to distant countries and discovering new things, then you will also enjoy the fact that our main character J does that. Through him, we get to go to India, Latin America, Barcelona and more, satisfying that travel bug that we all have inside of us.

The finishing touch to this novel is that it’s not just a novel. Surprise! It also doubles up as a cookbook, including recipes by the author himself: some of his favourites that he has decided to weave in to the story whenever he prepares dinner or dinks for some special guests. This means that for all you food lovers out there the novel just got even better, as you can cook as you read – or maybe once you’ve finished reading, to avoid disasters in the kitchen. In any case the recipes, just like J’s life, are simple yet most enjoyable, adding the original touch to the book.

Where did Adam Shaw get the idea for the novel from? Supposedly, a Brazilian girlfriend who was a very fussy eater, who made it impossible to cook for. If you want a light but entertaining and heartwarming read, then this book is for you.

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