Saturday, 25 April 2009

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

I finished this a couple of weeks ago, and have warmed to it during that period, having been a little underwhelmed during the actual reading of the book. Something of a bildungsroman for the middle aged, we see Richard Novak's life transformed utterly by apparently random occurences and contingent encounters. Homes is skilful in her management of the plot, allowing some circumstances to have later significance, others to simply drift away, part of the eccentric Los Angeles setting for the novel. The relationships Richard develops with Anhil, the doughnut seller, Cynthia, who he meets, happenstance, weeping in a supermarket, and Nic, his writer neighbour in Malibu, are genuine and touching, and frame the reinvention of his relationship with his teenage son Ben. Richard's transition from moneyed hermit, his only human contacts with his housekeeper Cecilia and his nutritionist, to the utterly displaced man adrift in the Pacific on a kitchen table with an acquired dog for company, but with a renewed connection to others, is a familiar narrative. However, the characterisation, the use of detail and the ironies of the novel make it a worthwhile and enjoyable one.

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