The light fantastic

In Actors, FIlms, Men, Uncategorized, Writing on February 2, 2014 at 7:07 pm


I heart Matthew McConaughey. Not for his abs and his chest, but for his acting.

In fact I didn’t get the point of him when he was in all those dopey rom coms and had felt sorry for him right at the start when he was posted on the cover of Vanity Fair as the second coming, as it seemed an impossible introduction to live up to.

And after a few years of meh movies it seemed like the inevitable had come to pass and that he was fading away into another sad Hollywood used-to-be as he got too old to pull off the romantic lead.

Then I saw Magic Mike and fell in love with him as an actor.


I absolutely adored that film – for many reasons, many of them unprintable – but it was McConaughey’s clear pleasure at not being the prime beefsteak in that film which was such a joy to watch. He got to play the old guy, the not entirely likeable one and he did it brillllllllliantly.

I deeply lust after Tatum Channing, but it’s McConaughey’s character I quote from that film.

‘That’s what I’m talking about…’ has gone into my lexicon.

So it was thrilling to see him then segue into a run of really interesting roles where he can flex his thespian muscles rather than his biceps. GQ mag has labelled his come back into proper parts the ‘McConissance’. I can’t wait to see Dallas Buyers Club.


And nowI have another reason to love him. There’s a really good profile of him in the colour mag of the London Telegraph. I normally find interviews with actors total snore-a-thons but this one is full of fascinating stuff – and there was one bit in particular which made me drum my feet on the floor with delight.

They were discussing the first part of his career, when he was really only hired as the eye candy. The male va va va voom. Does he have a problem that he wasn’t taken ‘seriously’ as an actor? No, sir.

This is what he said:

“I said, ‘Hey, do my good looks help me along? Absolutely. Does the fact that my body is considered good and we’re gonna have me up there in a shirtless scene help it along? Sure.’ I didn’t ever go, ‘No, no, no.’ I was like, ‘Yeah! I get that. That’s fun. What’s the big deal?'”

Then we get to the bit I really love…

“If you go deep with the romcom you sink the ship. There’s a buoyancy to the frequency of romcoms. To be light [my italics] is critically always looked down upon – it’s willowy, it’s wispy, it’s nothing. You know what? It’s f***ing not easy to do and a lot of people don’t do it well. A lot of the work in those things is to stay buoyant. To say, ‘Hey, get offa my cloud, man! I’m dancing between the raindrops!”

This speaks exactly to how I feel when people tell me that the books write are ‘chick lit’ ‘fluff’, or ‘dressed up Mills and Boon’, all of which has been said to me by total strangers (usually at drinks parties, when they’ve asked me what I do…) .

I try not to let it bother me, but it does. I have no aspirations to write ‘important’, ‘serious’, or ‘literary’ works. I want to entertain, to distract – to make other people feel the way my favourite books make me feel.

So thank you Matthew McConaughey. I’m not writing ‘fluff’, I’m dancing between the raindrops.


  1. Amen to that!

    I read a couple of your books during a really difficult time in my life. They entertained, distracted, and released me from the grind of my brain at the time. Such a relief! Thank you very much for your raindrop dances 🙂

  2. It was only a few weeks ago that I was discussing Matthew McConaughey’s career with my film buddy. It’s really unusual for an actor to go from romcoms to more serious films – good for him.

    And yes, I echo Kathryn’s comments – in my day job I have to read legal documents and legislation so in my down time your books are just the ticket!

    • He’s achieved a miracle, I think… There was other great stuff in the interview too. His attitude to parenting is great. They’re off to Brazil to see his wife’s parents and each person can only take one backpack and they’re all sharing one room. Love it x

  3. Your way of dancing between rain drops is my most favourite way. I know you read the serious stuff and I love the serious stuff too but it is equally as important to be buoyant, light and well, dance. Thank you. X

  4. I absolutely agree with you Maggie! I love your books for the joy, the distraction and the sheer entertainment. My work is serious and sometimes sad, current politics are depressing in the extreme and there are plenty of things to worry about in everyday family life. Dancing between the raindrops essential every now and again! Thanks for the light and laughter you provide, B x

    • Thanks, Bec. It means a lot… I wish someone could come up with a term better than ‘chick lit’! It’s so insulting! x

      • I was searching for an audio version of your books today (my favourite indulgence when driving to work, just finished “how to break your own heart”….again!) and you were categorised under ‘adult contemporary fiction’……not quite as catchy as ‘chick-lit’ for those wanting to pigeon-hole particular writers.x

  5. Amd you do it so well! That is exactly why I read and re-read and love all your books.

  6. Here here to that! My favourite kind of reading and tv or movie viewing is the light variety – it’s how I switch off. Keep dancing between those rain drops Maggie – you do it so brilliantly! Mel xo

  7. Love you, Maggie and I am a fan of Matthew McConaughy. He is fabulous in telelevision in “True Detectives” with another cool dude, Woody Harrelson. He has come a long way from “Cheers”

  8. Maggie
    I’ve followed you right from the beginning of your Good Weekend column days. I have also read all your books. While your books (and columns) are entertaining, they also in my option, provide important and insightful social commentary of our times, or relationships and what makes us who we are.
    You are (no iPhone italics! ) an important writer!

    • aw shucks, now you are going to make me blush. Thank you so so so much. I don’t think my books are the fluffiest of fluff, there is always a serious subject in there, I just try not to make it too heavy, while making the point. Means so much, what you’ve said xxx

  9. So when’s the next raindrop dancing novel due in Australia?

    • Not sure! Work in progress with a new publisher, so there’s a bit of a change to the schedule – will let you know as soon as I do (and small matter of finishing it eek…) xxx

  10. Maggie,
    l’m another huge fan of your books. So many of us live lives full of stress and pressure. A glorious ‘ time out ‘ read of fun and lightheartedness is a wonderful escape. Thank you !

  11. Yes to all the above. The morning papers nearly always mean the day gets off to a disgruntled start. We need plenty of buoyancy to counter act the actions of the boofheads in power.
    Now some help please. As I’ve read all Maggie’s books and all of Liz Byski’s and all those by Kerry Greenwood and Adriana Trigiani could any of you gals out there offer some suggestions as to who else is a good read. Not silly chick lit, more women’s light fiction like the authors I have mentioned.

  12. Ah, Matthew, Lone Star 1996. There you have it! I got myself one of your novels for my summer reading and I slipped right into fashion shows, interior decorating and love without any problems!! My darling husband really only likes watching rom coms – now I should have a look over Matthew’s back catalogue too.
    I just had a look at your blondes should wear camel article. I am going to be all over a camel cashmere cardigan this winter, I just know that it would suit me and my blonde-ness and I’d never thought of the real bonus of looking like a polo players wife – in a good way!!

  13. Annelouise
    I can recommend all of Erica James’ novels. I read all 13 one after the other. Similar to Maggie’s wonderful clever English funny and relateable stories (only a little less glamourous settings)
    Looking forward to your next one Maggie. I’m re reading yours meanwhile.x

    • Thank you Miranda. I’ll look out for them. I love that you read 13 one after the other. I’m looking forward to your next story Maggie. No pressure!

    • Ooh I don’t know this writer – what should I read first? x

      • Eric’s James’
        “Promises promises”
        “Gardens of delight” and
        “A breath of fresh air”
        These titles were my favourites but I liked them all.
        Also can recommend recently read Sandra Howard’s (yes, wife of Michael!) “ex-wives” and “Divine” by Michelle Holman…..
        Plus a rather disturbing but un- putdownable, read in one sitting “the boy under the table” by Nicole Trope.
        I ❤ being a library member.
        I have been an avid reader my whole life until I got an IPhone. An 18 month book less period followed as I buggered about with it in bed instead of novels…. But sense prevailed and now I’m back baby. Better than ever!
        Love your blog too Maggie.

  14. It’s funny you posted this now, I absolutely hear where you’re coming from. Just the other night I put a post up and referenced your writing because it’s gorgeous, it’s entertaining, I have all your books (#fangirl) and I adore them. They put me in a good mood every time I pick one up. So there 🙂

  15. Thank you, Maggie, for me, your books have been thoroughly enjoyable escapism. I will not have anyone say a bad word against you – for every piece written, there is a market, an audience. If escapism is your bag, judge not!

  16. You do not write fluff, you have written some of the stuff that is a part of my memories and time line. I remember you from the old “good weekend” days and loved your column. One was a tribute to Princess Di and Michael Hutchinson and you articulated so well what I was feeling and could not put into words. Another article (not your column) you spoke about your and a girlfriends infertility – and then you were pregnant 🙂 your writing has made an impression on my life, nothing to do with raindrops but the full on rainbow.

    • Oh Colleen, thank you so so much for your beautiful message, which has started my day with a big smile (and a bit of a tear in my eye…). I can’t tell you what it means to me to have feedback like yours, because writing can be a very isolated existence. It’s so great to have contact with real people, which is why I love Twitter and blogging xxx

  17. I loved Matthew M when I saw him in Contact with Jodie Foster many moons ago. And reading that interview snippet confirms he is a man who is very comfortable in his skin and with his choices.

    As noted previously, I love your writing. I read your books, columns and blog because they make me feel good: they are funny, thoughtful, tap into things that make me say, “Me too!” and are beautifully written.

    I really get annoyed with po-faced people who denigrate writing that is easily accessible. A book group I joined years ago drove me mad because it became an unrelenting diet of worthy books that depressed the living daylights out of me. I like “literature” as much as the next person but at the time my job entailed wading through great wodges of legislation and I needed a break. Well, I recommended Allison Pearson’s newly released terrific “I Don’t Know How She Does It” as a book club read: the other only person who liked it was another corporate slave. Some people said they didn’t get the point of it…

    And Mills and Boon: about 30 years ago I was teaching high school English literature. It was a well known fact in the staff room that I could devour a turgid M&B tale in one sitting. That was my relaxation. The Head of English was so amused she asked me to design a subject comparing Jane Austen to Mills and Boon. Sadly, I ran away to join corporate land instead.

  18. I have never understood why a book which is well written, insightful and deals with the issues of our day in an accessible way is somehow considered a less worthy read than the (often turgid) tomes that count as literature. As others have said, there is a place for it all. And wasn’t much of Dickens’ work serialised in papers and magazines, suggesting it perhaps wasn’t considered ‘literature’ in its day?
    I have read your “Cents and sensibility” at least once a year since publication. Much like “Pride and Prejudice” it is a sure fire pick me up on a dreay London day when my family seems the million miles away that they are and Mr Right remains nothing but a fantasy. That ability to bring joy is, to my mind, as much if not more important as any other goal a book might have.
    Do keep dancing on those raindrops Maggie – just be sure to keep inviting us along to share to the ride!
    PS: “McConnaissance”: if that is my start to Monday morning, this is going to be a fantabulous week!

  19. Maggie, like all those who read your books and columns, I heart you!
    Readable and accessible does not equate to dross, it means that you are a skilled writer. What is the point of writing a ‘literary masterpiece’ if no one reads it because it is f***ing unreadable.
    May your raindrop dancing long continue, and please feel free the next time some self styled literary critic sniffs at your books to have an accidental drink spill over them (but you are way to polite to do that!).

  20. Indeed you are dancing in the raindrops and for me you can let it pour. Your books are my favourite go to reads. They are uplifting. I reread them time and again. Each time with absolute pleasure. I love how you balance romance and fashion.

    And – yes starting a sentence with a preposition – I have recently returned from 3 lovely weeks in London, Paris and Milan. Indulged in wonderful cities, Milan especially inspired by your writing. London I bought a gorgeous sparkly beaded skirt found inTopshop, which I will team with grey marle top, black tights and short boots. Just like you wrote about recently.

    Worry now about that choice seeing that I’m over 60. But life is for living and there’s still a lot to pack in but it was love at first sight with the skirt.

    Thanks Maggie, you light up my life

  21. I love the quote and I love him. His Golden Globes acceptance speech was sublime too.

    As someone who has a serious and often sad job, one of my very favourite things to do when I switch off and come home is to “dance between the rain drops,” whether that’s a book, movie, TV show, magazine or otherwise. While I also appreciate the serious and educational, there will always be a welcome place in this world for the things that make us happy and keep us smiling.

    Keep doing what you do best Maggie, and don’t you ever dare let someone make you feel even the smallest bit ashamed for it.

  22. Maggie, Inagree with all the above comments. I love reading your books. I love the way they’re easy to read. I don’t understand it when people comment about a book being well written when they are boring & too complex. Ruth Park’s books were easy to read, well written, enjoyable & meaningful. I’m rambling, but keep up the books & columns. I was devastated when you left the GW. At least we have the sun Herald to look forward too.

  23. I love your books Maggie and have read every single one. “Chick-lit” can be brilliant or terrible- just like any other genre. Your books just happen to be brilliant. Especially your most recent book- Everyone Changes But You… I could see your writing style was becoming more sophisticated since the early days of Pants on Fire (which I LOVED too and read over ten years ago when I was too young to even know about Oxford Street bars etc).

    I think your books actually are a genre of their own. I always love the fashion and houses you describe.

    Keep writing your brilliant books please. And ignore those chick lit critics. Sometimes after a hard day wrangling children and work we need light entertaining that is fun but not mind numbing.

    • Gosh, Libby thank you SO SO much. It means the world to me, what you have written. And thank you for your insight about the range of ‘chick lit’. There are some writers stuck in that genre, such as Marian Keyes who I would queue up to get their books. Then there are the light touch masters, like my friend Jill Mansell, who write very easy to read books, which are really satisfying to read. It particularly means a lot to me that you’ve seen my writing progress, as I have been aiming for greater sophistication, but sitting alone in a room all day you start to wonder if you’re imagining it. xxx

  24. Maggie, I’m a professional business woman and I don’t like the terms “fluff” or “chick lit” either, but still seek out the “good” writing in this area. I have been following you for more than 15 years…Read all your books and blogs… shared your insights with others… It’s like we know you as a person when we read your words. So, thank you for dancing between the raindrops. Regarding Matthew McConaughey, I agree with you. He’s fantastic. I hope by now you have discovered True Detective. It’s dark and disturbing and the women in the series are not depicted well, but it’s excellent TV and as well made as a major feature film. You need to follow it carefully, so bad luck if you want to multi-task with ironing, playing Candy Crush or polishing nails while watching it! Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are at their best, IMHO.

  25. I fear the respect he is due will unfortunately be delayed by silly women going all doolalley over his abs or whatever. In a recent tv interview, the “reporter” chose to ignore the rather important theme of “The Dallas Buyers Club” – AIDS – and instead asked inane questions about MM’s weight loss regimen for the film. UGH. Nevertheless, I saw it at a cinema in Paddington, and thought it a fine film, but some of the women in the audience tittered at the sight of him in his underdaks. Oh for Pete’s sake…

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