This Book Will Save Your Life, by A.M. Homes

Tells the story of Richard Novak, who at the start of the story is afflicted with an inexplicable pain that sends him to hospital. We gather that Richard has been living a fairly hermetic existence, hardly ever leaving his home, making money by managing some kind of investment portfolio. But his "illness", and rather peculiar events which follow his return home, cause a change in his outlook on life. He starts talking to strangers, and finds that life has a lot to offer.

This was a very readble book. I was trying to think what else it reminds me of, and I think maybe it has flavours similar to A Spot of Bother. Not because they both start with middle-aged men thinking they're ill, but because the feel of both books has a world which is slightly dreamy but populated by people who are basically good.

One of the reasons that made Richard's world feel a little unreal was that it seemed a bit too good to be true: he strikes up conversations with complete strangers, and they turn out to be really nice, or interesting, or famous, or all three. When I've got into conversation with a trolley-collector at the supermarket, he turned out to be bit barmy, but Richard never meets anyone like that.

The other thing was that Richard has apparently limitless funds so that he can buy cars as presents, rent a beach house for a couple of months, pay for friends to stay in hotels and health farms. And he doesn't have to spend his time working - we don't get much detail on his job, but he appears to be self-employed and can afford to take weeks off whenever he wants.

This wasn't a major flaw for me, but all the way through I was thinking "this is all very well, and it would be nice to think that you could just take an indefinite holiday from your real life and go round buying cars for complete strangers while you re-evaluate your value-system, but most people don't have the time or resources to do that"

That aside, I did enjoy the book, and it was nice to imagine that life could be like this.

The book is written by a woman, and I couldn't help feel that she didn't really get inside Richard's head - or at least I think Richard wasn't a very typical man, in that he seemed to spend a lot of time with women without considering the idea of there being a sexual relationship in the offing.

Would read more by this author though.

Completed : 04-Apr-2010

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