Book Review: My Legendary Girlfriend by Mike Gayle

My Legendary Girlfriend by Mike GayleI’ve read several books by this UK author and they are what you’d call lad-lit (chick-lit for men), except for his best book, The To-Do List, which is non-fiction and one of my favorite books. My Legendary Girlfriend falls in the lad-lit category again and was very good.

The book is quite clever, covers only a weekend in which the main character spends most of his time at home, but still, on Monday morning, a lot has changed. The book becomes rather unrealistic in the end, but that is all part of the fun.

My Legendary Girlfriend: What it is about

Will Kelly is 26 years old and has just finished his first week as a teacher at a secondary school in London. It’s Friday night and while he would love to go out with friends, he isn’t. Because he’s new to London, doesn’t know many people. He’s stuck in his dilapidated newly-rented room. His phone is his lifeline and during the weekend he calls (and gets called by) friends, family, and even someone unknown, who he has several interesting conversations with.

He has been feeling sorry for himself for years. Three to be precise. On his birthday three years ago, his girlfriend Aggi broke up with him, and he still hasn’t recovered from the shock. He still wants her back. Aggi has meanwhile moved on. Will’s other friends are Alice whom he has been platonic friends with  forever, and Simon who is starting to become a well-known musician.

Now it’s his birthday again. It’s bound to be a lonely one.

My Legendary Girlfriend: What I thought

This book was very funny, laugh out loud funny in places. It was also a bit cliché: a young man not looking after himself or the place he lives in, surviving on snacks and not bothering with the basics of personal hygiene. But maybe that’s very realistic, actually? 🙂

Will spends a lot of time on the phone, and in fact, that is where most of the story takes place. I thought this was very clever, as in Will’s physical life, not much is happening, but in his head there is. And his relationship with the people on the phone changes also over the weekend, in most cases dramatically so.

If you’re not so into male books, some of it may be a bit boring: Get a life already, Will!, you might think. But Will will get a life when he is ready, and that is sooner than you might think.

Towards the ending things happen that are rather unlikely, but that fit really well with the general atmosphere of the book. So, as a reader, I was happy to accept these developments and enjoy the rest of the story.

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

Number of pages: 352 (my Dutch edition)

First published: 1998 (UK, Dutch edition, Mijn legendarische Ex, 2002)

I got this book: from a second-hand book stall

Genre: contemporary fiction, lad-lit

Have you read this book?

Did you enjoy it?


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

19 Responses to Book Review: My Legendary Girlfriend by Mike Gayle

  1. Chinoiseries says:

    Lad-lit? What a cool name for this genre! I have to confess that I did not know of its existence. It sounds like a very entertaining read. Us girls tend to forget that boys also have feelings and can be hurt just like us!

  2. Suzanne says:

    I think lad lit is a great term too. This sounds like a fun book.

  3. Tony says:

    Back when I was young and foolish, I read (and enjoyed) some of Mike Gayle’s books – I think this was the first of his I read. Sadly, I grew out of them. The last one I tried just did nothing for me, prompting me to write an open letter to end it all 😉

    • Leeswammes says:

      Are you calling *me* foolish, Tony? I love me a bit of lad-lit. I liked your letter to Mike. I’ve not grown up – I can read both literary and less literary novels and enjoy them. I draw the line at books with bare-chested men on the cover, though. 🙂

      • Tony says:

        Lad-Lit is a very old phenomenon, mid-90s at least. Obviously the term is not so well known outside the UK…

      • Leeswammes says:

        Ah, that could be it: it’s a UK term. I lived in England for 15 years in the 90s and beyond so that’s when I have picked it up, I guess.

  4. debbierodgers says:

    I’m so glad to discover the term ‘lad-lit’ too, I hope use of it spreads!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Debbie, looking at Tony’s letter (see comment above) the term *lad-lit *seems to have been around for a while (the letter is from 2009). I didn’t realise that either.

  5. Cass says:

    I’ve read a few Nick Hornby novels that I think could be categorized as lad-lit too; it’s a fun genre!

  6. I’m joining the others in thanking you for adding “Lad Lit” to my lexicon. 🙂

  7. Roxanne says:

    I have read this book two weeks ago and I thought it was quite funny. I have read another book by Mike Gayle earlier this year, but this one was better 🙂

  8. Pingback: Book Review: Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace « Leeswammes' Blog

  9. JuneA** says:

    This is the first time I’ve heard of “lad-lit” as well (I’m in the US). But I like it! Like you, I do draw the line at bare-chested men on the cover …… Some days I just need a light, humorous read! I’ll have to check this author out! Thanks 🙂

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