ANDREW FFRENCH enjoys a few laugh out loud moments thanks to our latest Book of the Month, How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.

THE BOOK: CAITLIN Moran was such a precocious talent as a writer that she penned her first novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, at the age of 15.

Two decades on, her second book, How To Be a Woman, has stormed the bestseller lists, and picked up the Galaxy Book Awards Book of the Year gong along the way.

The columnist presents her story as ‘part-memoir, part rant’, so it should probably go in the autobiography section, but publishers Ebury Press have muddled matters slightly by categorising it as Humour/Feminism.

Despite the confusion, however, major book chains have no problem deciding where to display How To Be a Woman in their stores – they know Moran’s reputation as a funny writer will sell piles of copies so they simply shove it right at the front.

And it’s the right decision because there are laugh out loud moments throughout, as Moran describes her journey from young girl growing up in a rather crowded council house in Wolverhampton to woman of the world and accomplished writer.

Moran’s reputation as a writer who can make people laugh week in, week out with her witty observations is entirely justified and when people see me reading this book they ask me to ‘read out the funny bits’.

But in a way that’s missing the point, because Moran’s over-arching theme is feminism, a woman’s place in the world today, and how they are still being exploited by the patriarchy when it comes to the portrayal of women in magazines and the national press.

On occasions there can be a slightly uncomfortable transition from the writer’s quirky memories about her past and the points she is trying to make as part of her feminist agenda.

But these serious passages are still written in an entertaining way and Moran makes sure she sugarcoats the polemics with amusing anecdotes. There is no doubt that women-only book groups up and down the country will have a great time sipping Cava and chatting about how they would like to change the world as women.

But men in book groups could feel a little uncomfortable discussing some of the nitty-gritty Moran touches on, under chapter headings including I Become Furry!, I Don’t Know What To Call My Breasts!, I Need a Bra!, and Why You Shouldn’t Have Children.

On Moran’s website, the author jokes: “Of course I don’t hate men, I married one of them – after 100,000 years of the patriarchy maybe men could take a little rest.”

But her feminist agenda does not come across an angry attack on men, but as a heartfelt desire to highlight the injustices women face as a result of the status quo not being challenged.

If Moran has spotted any glass ceilings above her desks she has smashed through them and this is a hilarious and thought-provoking read that will prompt debate and tears of laughter at book groups throughout the land.

And blokes should give the latest Lee Child a rest to read this book instead – they just might learn something.

THE AUTHOR: CAITLIN Moran is a TV critic and columnist at The Times newspaper.

Born in Brighton, the 36-year-old was the oldest of eight children and grew up in a three-bedroom council house in Wolverhampton with her parents, four sisters and three brothers.

She was home-educated from the age of 11 after attending secondary school for a short time, and began her career as a journalist at the age of 16 for the weekly music paper Melody Maker.

At the age of 18 she briefly presented the pop show Naked City on Channel 4, before joining The Times.

As well as writing about TV, she is the author of the celebrity column Celebrity Watch, winning the British Press Awards Columnist of the Year award in 2010 and Critic and Interviewer of the Year in 2011.

She was christened Catherine but saw the name Caitlin in a Jilly Cooper novel when she was 13 and decided she would rather be called that instead. She pronounces the name ‘Catlin’.

The author is married to rock critic Pete Paphides and the couple have two daughters.

* How To Be a Woman is published by Ebury Press, priced £7.99, but you can get it for half price at Waterstones in Oxford and Witney with our voucher in the Oxford Mail