Book Review – I WAS TOLD THERE’D BE CAKE by Sloane Crosley

I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane CrosleyI Was Told There’d Be Cake Synopsis :

Wry, hilarious, and profoundly genuine, this debut collection of literary essays is a celebration of fallibility and haplessness in all their glory. From despoiling an exhibit at the Natural History Museum to provoking the ire of her first boss to siccing the cops on her mysterious neighbor, Crosley can do no right despite the best of intentions-or perhaps because of them. Together, these essays create a startlingly funny and revealing portrait of a complex and utterly recognizable character that’s aiming for the stars but hits the ceiling, and the inimitable city that has helped shape who she is.

I Was Told There’d Be Cake introduces a strikingly original voice, chronicling the struggles and unexpected beauty of modern urban life.

Audiobook narrated by Sloane Crosley, 420 mins

(Penguin Audio)


Boy how our tastes can change… A decade ago if someone had suggested I listen to an audiobook, let alone one featuring a collection of personal essays ‘about life’ narrated by the author themselves, I would have said ‘no thanks’. Today, I’m a huge fan of audiobooks (when I find time to listen to them), and essay collections, well they are certainly a genre that’s growing on me…

I was thoroughly entertained by the deadpan humour of David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, and Sloane Crosley’s debut collection I Was Told There’d Be Cake has been likened to his work.

What is nice about listening to a collection of essays in audio, as compared to fiction, is that they are generally easy to dip in and out of. The laid back, conversational tone of both Crosley’s writing and narration felt undemanding, and fitted perfectly with my multi-tasking mood at the time.

People are less quick to applaud you as you grow older. Life starts out with everyone clapping when you take a poo and goes downhill from there.

The author is a similar vintage to myself and so I found her experiences of growing up in New York in the 80s and 90s, and her childhood musings of what it would have been like to grow up a world-away in Australia (where I was doing just that), very intriguing.

Uniqueness is wasted on youth. Like fine wine or a solid flossing habit, you’ll be grateful for it when you’re older.

I just love an essay that circles back on itself and a couple of pieces in this collection did just that. Some however, involved a few too many unresolved tangents for my liking — but I guess real life is rarely wrapped up in the bow we might like it to be.

What makes Crosley’s title compelling listening is her apparent compulsion to be honest, even at her own detriment, or an acquaintances expense.

What annoyed me was that I so often attempted to weasel out of things on purpose, it killed me to do it by accident. It seemed like a waste of whatever detailed lie I was going to have to come up with.

Her frankness, particularly when it comes to her own fallibilities and the nature of adult friendships, is refreshing. As in conversation with the closest of friends, no pretence is required. Given how personal this collection is, its narration by someone other than the author simply would not have rung true.

Although darkly witty, Crosley’s work did not garner a laugh-out-loud response from me. Its strength is in drawing out the reasoning, whether profound or fickle, for our everyday actions — observations we can all identify with, no matter our upbringing.

Extremists and their supports cause you to align yourself with something you’re not in order to get as far away as possible from the something you’re really not.

A candid exploration of expectations versus reality, I Was Told There’d Be Cake presents a distinctive voice and food for thought (unsweetened).

BOOK RATING: The Story 3 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
Available from:
Book Depository | AmazonKobobooksBooktopia(Aus)

Genre: Audio, Non-Fiction, Humour, Memoir

Author Information: Sloane Crosley is the author of How Did You Get This Number, a New York Times bestseller. She is the editor of The Best American Travel Writing 2011, Up The Down Volcano, and is a frequent contributor to a variety of publications such as The New York Times and GQ. She is included in “The Library of America’s 50 Funniest American Writers According to Andy Borowitz“. Her first novel, The Clasp, was released in October 2015. She lives in New York City. The New York bestselling I Was Told There’d be Cake was a finalist for The Thurber Prize.

Check out Sloane Crosley’s website or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Other reviews of I Was Told There’d Be Cake :  The Guardian, Melody & Words

Disclosure: If you click a link in this post we may earn a small commission to help offset our running costs.

Share this: