Today’s book review, of a novel, is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
This Book Will Save Your Life by A M Homes
Synopsis: Shortlisted for the Richard & Judy Book Club 2007. An uplifting story set in Los Angeles about one man’s effort to bring himself back to life. Richard is a modern day everyman; a middle-aged divorcee trading stocks out of his home. He has done such a good job getting his life under control that he needs no one. His life has slowed almost to a standstill, until two incidents conspire to hurl him back into the world. One day he wakes up with a knotty cramp in his back, which rapidly develops into an all-consuming pain. At the same time a wide sinkhole appears outside his living room window, threatening the foundations of his house. A vivid novel about compassion and transformation, “This Book Will Save Your Life” reveals what can happen if you are willing to open up to the world around you.
Since her debut in 1989, A.M. Homes has been among the boldest and most original voices of her generation, acclaimed for the psychological accuracy and unnerving emotional intensity of her storytelling. Her keen ability to explore how extraordinary the ordinary can be is at the heart of her touching and funny new novel, her first in six years.
This novel is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Book-Will-Save-Your/dp/1862079331 and http://www.amazon.com/This-Book-Will-Save-Your/dp/1862079331.
Review (of the audiobook)
The novel starts with our protagonist, Richard, calling 911, not knowing what’s happening to him but when he gets to hospital, they are / he is none the wiser.
Over the next few days he forms some unusual friendships and while the synopsis covers much of the plot, it’s an interesting look at human (Los Angeles) life. His experiences make Richard revaluate his life and it made me think about mine… to some extent, as many books and films do.
There isn’t a character you wouldn’t like (although Richad’s ex-wife isn’t too endearing) and my favourite is Anil, owner of a doughnut shop who tries to discourage Richard from eating doughnuts, given his health issues. He appears sporadically and by the end of the novel he’s also ‘grown’ (as has his business).
Normally I like first-person pov but it doesn’t really work here especially when using continuous fppov, e.g. ‘She is watching him, live from New York. He is on the dining room table, at sea…’ rather then ‘She watches…’, It’s listed on Amazon as a young adult book which could explain the simplified language but personally, I wouldn’t have put it in that category as I don’t feel it suitable for a younger audience.
My favourite phrase is ‘I visit Fred because I can’t visit my dad… Sometimes you can’t do things for the people you should do things for, including yourself, but you can do them for someone else, a stranger…’ and this later becomes Richard’s mantra.
There’s humour laced throughout the novel and I smiled when Richard and his Ben mistook their neighbour’s (Nick) visitor for a curly-haired cleaning lady – it turned out to be Bob Dylan!
Ben googled their neighbour, scriptwriter Nicholas Thomson, and got 57,000 results so when I got home (I’d been listening while walking to / from the local post office) – out of interest – I googled myself (no, I don’t do this regularly) 🙂 and there were 436,000 results (54,300,000 with the MorgAn spelling). Just in case you wondered, I also googled ‘script writer Nicholas Thomson’ and got 9,500,000 results.
I’ve said before that a narrator can often make or break an audiobook (I avoid Patricia Cornwell’s audiobooks narrated by a particular woman) but this was brilliantly voiced by Garrick Hagon, and I really enjoyed the writing other than Ben’s drunk outburst which I felt overdone and an unnecessary way to highlight a plot point.
It’s a great novel and I’d definitely read A (Amy) M Homes again. She has a quirky style akin of Kate Atkinson but only time (another book) will tell if she becomes a favourite.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.