This is a beautifully written book. Highly introspective, poetic and at times tragically hilarious, there is no denying that Hornby is one hell of an author.
I read the entire novel in a few hours, and enjoyed the pure escapism that it provided. I found the storyline very bitty though. It felt as though the author had had lots of excellent ideas for separate works (adopting homeless children, being an exhausted GP, having a ‘Spiritual Healer’ move in, awkward neighbours), and instead of developing any of them in great depth, instead spliced them together, creating a book that was very funny and captivating, but that also threw this reader in many different directions.
Katie, the GP who narrates the mayhem, is certainly very human; flawed, feisty, witty, but actually by the end of the book, quite frustrating. I wanted to reach into the novel and shake her very hard at various points. In a way though, this frustration at her mirrors her frustration at her situation; a loveless marriage and a march towards further mundanity, despite the arrival of ludicrous characters throughout.
Parts of the novel’s main themes beggared belief; David’s transformation into a modern-day Saint was implausible and at times, frankly ludicrous.
I wanted to see more of the craziness, and less of the bickering, to be honest. Goodnews was an excellent character sold short by a novel trying to cover too much, similarly with Barmy Brian.
I really enjoyed flying through this book; hornby’s writing is haunting in its poetry and the moments of spontaneous hilarity hugely satisfying, but I finished it feeling emotionally spent. I think however, that may have been the point…
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