Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 17, 2018

The Bed-making Competition, by Anna Jackson (2018 co-winner of Seizure Viva La Novella Prize)

The Bed-making Competition with its quirky title and impressive credentials as joint-winner of the 2018 Viva La Novella competition is a book that will make you wish you had sisters, or that the ones you have were like the ones in this story.

The novella is in five parts, tracing the evolution of the relationship between Hillary and Bridgid as they negotiate a rebellious adolescence, the deliberate disappearance of one and the motherhood of the other, and a surprisingly amusing reunion at their mother’s deathbed.  The tone is both tender and hilarious, making it very satisfying to read.

I loved reading about these two girls, and how as teenagers they romped through a large amount of cash and their father’s credit card after he inexplicably left them to their own devices while he went after the wife who had deserted them.  My, how they shopped! They ate out every night.  They wagged school and university.  And gosh, they even drunkenly gate-crashed a teacher’s dinner party with such aplomb, they must have taken master-classes from Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous.

Yes, they partied as if there were no tomorrow, which came eventually but—such wicked girls! they knew exactly how to play their parents off against each other:

Dad said, ‘You’re eighteen,’ at the same time as Mum said, ‘Of course you shouldn’t have to fend for yourselves,’ glowering at Dad, and then they both started on us, though mostly Bridgid, about the mess they’d come home to, and all the stuff we’d bought, and they were waving receipts at us that they’d already retrieved out of the bags that had piled up on the table ready to wave at us.

Bridgid just stood there saying nothing, and I thought, oh no, now we’re really in for it, and I almost wished Mum hadn’t come home, though I did hope that Bridgid would get most of the blame for being the oldest. But Bridgid just stared at Mum and Dad, and then she burst out, in the most convincingly traumatised tone, ‘I didn’t know if you were ever coming home!’

‘Oh, Bridgid,’ said Mum.

‘We were so scared!’ Birdgid said accusingly.  ‘We didn’t know what to do! And Hillary kept asking when you were coming home, and I didn’t know what to do to cheer her up.   I didn’t know what to do! (p.22)

The bed-making competition, in case you’re wondering took place in a suburban shopping centre.  (I don’t know if stores still run these promotional competitions: The Spouse once won an Iron Man competition for ironing a crisp cotton shirt to perfection, which was nice because we got a beaut new iron out of it.) Our heroine, opting for speed over hospital corners, does not win, but I will say no more.

Buy the book, it is just gorgeous.

Author: Anna Jackson
Title: The Bed-making Competition
Publisher: Seizure by Brio Books, 2018, 100 pages
ISBN: 9781925589528
Purchased from SeizureOnline $14.95 plus postage, also available now at Fishpond: Viva La Novella VI Winner Book 2


  1. Lovely review! :)


    • It’s a lovely book! I just wish I’d left reviewing it till tomorrow because it will be swamped by the news about the Booker and the PM’s Award shortlists…


      • I will definitely read it! Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I had sisters. You learn nothing from brothers.


    • Oh, I don’t know. Shakespeare’s Goneril and Regan might give you pause for thought…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. […] two Kiwi winners for 2018 were Anna Jackson for The Bed-making Competition (see my review) and Avi Duckor-Jones for Swim.  As you know if you read my reviews, I was impressed by both these […]


  4. […] The Bed-making Competition by Anna Jackson […]


  5. […] The Bed-making Competition, which was joint winner of the Seizure Viva La Novella prize this year.  A light-hearted, tender and hilarious tale about two sisters, from debut Kiwi author Anna Jackson who shared the award with Avi Duckworth-Jones for Swim.  (This is the first time New Zealand authors have won this prize). […]


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