Sunday, 10 September 2017

One for the Boys!

All These Nearly Fights by Richard Cunliffe  

First off - I really enjoyed this book though I’ll admit is not the genre of novel I usually put in my ‘basket’, because it’s from the male PoV.  I’m not certain why I resist, because I have read and enjoyed Mike Gayle, Mark Haddon and Graeme Simsion;  perhaps my problem is I feel ‘a foreigner’ when I’m made privy to the male mindset.  What do they call this genre anyhow?  Bloke-lit maybe?

The central character, Jimmy Harris, is very likeable, so while he’d probably describe himself as ‘jack the lad’ there’s a heart of gold in that car salesman’s chest.  The reader gets an insight into the salesman’s mindset as Jimmy vies with his colleagues to win a monetary bonus for selling the most cars this month - the lead up to christmas.  Jimmy is a listener too, several of his co-workers come for advice on life and love and he’s considerate and savvy with his feedback.

Jimmy himself has been victim of a painful break-up, but is currently in a relationship with a wonderful woman yet, ever the perfectionist, Jimmy is fretting whether she’s ‘the one.’  This is a key factor because Jimmy’s cheerful, hardworking exterior hides a big, life changing secret … a big Lottery windfall which he’s not sure how best to use. It’s a dilemma we’d all love to be troubled with, but Jimmy is obsessive about getting his ducks in a row before he takes the big step of sharing this information - for the majority of the book only 1 of his friends knows his secret - let alone putting his winnings to work.

It seems life has a lot to teach Jimmy while he ponders how to take the next steps, he’s on a rollercoaster ride regarding his love life, his entrepreneurial plans and the loyalty and commitment of his friends.  The book had me gripped, second guessing what Jimmy would do, what he’d get right and wrong and whether he’d heed the good advice that comes at him from every angle.  Will he hook up with the girl he used to love, but who treated him so badly? Should he become a high roller? Or alternatively  help ‘underdogs’ with his good fortune?  

You can’t help thinking you’d do in Jimmy’s situation as you read, and I found myself charmed and entertained by our hero in equal parts.  My only criticism, and I have e-mailed the author with my disgruntlement, is that I must wait until book 2 to know exactly how it all pans out, because this book ends on a real (East Enders) duf duf moment!  However, I’m all the more keen to read what Jimmy does next!  I can’t think of any books about which I can say: if you enjoyed that, you’ll enjoy this, but I can suggest some TV shows: Channel 4’s White Gold (about the highs, lows and craziness of double glazing salesmen in the 80s) or From there to Here where Philip Glenister is a man  who survives an IRA bomb and consequently tries to live his life to the max (and embarks on a double life).  Fans of those shows will surely enjoy this book and see some similarities; but for a page turning, humorous read which keeps you guessing, this novel won’t disappoint.

If you read chick-lit as a general rule, I'd be interested to know who (author or character) or what style
of book tempts you out of this genre. For me I love vampire books and chiller/thrillers so Koontz, King, Peter James, Stephanie Meyer, Charlaine Harris, and If I want a knock-em-down beat em up but always on the side of the underdog hero you cant beat Jack Reacher (as written by Lee Child) or Harry Potter (J K Rowling). Let me know in your comments who's on your list.

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