The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion ~Goodreads~
Published by Michael Joseph 2017
Hardback edition 384 pages ~Book Depository~
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Adam Sharp – former pianist in a hip Melbourne bar, now a respectable IT consultant in Norwich – can. And it’s ‘You’re Going to Lose that Girl’ . . .
On the cusp of fifty and a happy introvert, Adam is content. He’s the music expert at his local pub-quiz and he and his partner Claire rumble along. Life may not be rock n’ roll, but neither is it easy listening. Yet something has always felt off-key.
And that’s his nostalgia for what might have been, his blazing affair – more than twenty years ago, on the other side of the world – with Angelina Brown, a smart and sexy, strong-willed actress who taught him for the first time, as he played piano and she sang, what it meant to find – and then lose – love. How different might his life be if he hadn’t let her walk away?
Then, out of nowhere, Angelina gets in touch. Adam has sung about second chances, but does he have the courage to believe in them?
I’ve been a fan of Simsion since reading The Rosie Project and its sequel The Rosie Effect, and I was excited to see this upcoming novel of his was available on Netgalley. However, I felt that perhaps this particular novel of his was more suited to those of the same age as the characters rather than someone in their 20s. If you loved his previous books and are expecting something similar, then I suggest you wipe them thoughts away and go in with a fresh mind.
The plot is centered around Adam and his first love Angelina who he met in a bar in Melbourne where he performed as a pianist. We see that despite him being with another woman, Claire for 20 years he still has a soft spot for Angelina- apparently she might too seeing as she’s just sent him an email simply saying “Hi.” As the story progresses we see this long lost relationship blossom once again, although not quite in the way you might think.
Music is present in every chapter, and Adam refers to songs and bands of his youth and the memories attached to them. Most of these musicians and bands I knew so I wasn’t completely lost, but there were many I hadn’t heard of and perhaps missed some gags. I think it was a nice touch in the book, and relatable at least for me because I associate songs with people and memories too.
I wasn’t a fan of Angelina, very much the daring woman who seems to feel trapped in her marriage to Charlie and their three children. Not to say she doesn’t love them, but she doesn’t seem the type to settle down. Which is fair enough by all accounts but I felt that she manipulated Adam in some ways, and it was a little uncomfortable to read when Adam pays herself and Charlie a visit in France. Adam was very much a middle-aged man at a cross-roads and uncertain of which avenue to go down, he was a bit of a fool to begin with and yet he came out quite grounded but not really an exciting character. I think I didn’t have the emotional pull towards this novel because I can’t relate to their situation (and nor’ do I want to), and perhaps it was just a bit too mature and not enough of the Simsion humour that I loved previously.
However, saying this I felt that intellectually it was great for Simsion to write about relationships in a very matter of fact manner. None are perfect, or like a fairytale, they’re hard work and take a lot to keep them going. I liked that outlook very much, instead of being faced with characters who were up in the clouds. I just didn’t have that connection with the characters, but nonetheless I think its a book for those who are of a similar age to the characters and perhaps are in the same situation or something similar.
This book hasn’t put me off Simsion’s work, it was simply something different. No doubt I will still pick up his books in the near future.