So this particular book was purchased for me at Christmas, and so I took the opportunity of a vacation to read it. Think long mornings by the pool, an adult’s only atmosphere, a nice moderate 25c heat and endless Gin & Lemonades. Ah, Bliss. Now back to reality. 😉
THE MAN I THINK I KNOW, BY MIKE GAYLE
So this wouldn’t be a book I would have necessarily selected for myself, but this is really the joy of gift buying isn’t it, selecting a book that perhaps someone hasn’t asked for and surprising them with a new tale that they may not have otherwise read. I haven’t personally read any of Mike Gayle’s other novels, however I know that they are well loved, as is this particular story.
I read the book in three days, quietly and with time to really get into the pages, the storyline and the characters. It’s now a month since I read the book, I like to let time lapse between reading and reviewing, for if I remember the characters and the plot weeks after I have finished the book, then it’s a good one to recommend. If however part of the tale is a little ropey in my memory, it’s usually a clear sign to me that the book did not quite grab me as intended.
The tale is one of an unlikely male friendship, between two men in their early thirties that attended the same school and in the same year as children. However, their lives now are worlds apart.
James De Witt was a man expected of great things upon leaving his private school, of which he did for some time. A politician, well respected with a beautiful girlfriend, a big group of friends and what would appear the successful life.
Danny Allen on the other hand is struggling. He’s on benefits, an alcoholic with broken relationships and friendships and no guiding light.
To say much more would honestly give the plot away, so my review is not as detailed as others, but the characters themselves are well defined and the story line is lovely.
I would argue it’s highly predictable, but the thought that has gone into the characters and their interaction is quite beautiful and well written and developed.
I think we can think of our friendships at school and consider who we have remained friends with now and what our lives are like; how they have similarities or how they differ. Or perhaps it’s people we weren’t friends with at school, but knew, and consider – would we be friends now? How have our lives turned out? Why might our lives differ so much if we had the same educational chances?
The story is really one of true friendships that can be formed, but also about seeing the light where you may not have felt any. It’s about appreciating life for what is, but also for what you can offer it.
It questions what measures of success are. Is it James, with his high flying career? Seemingly with strong friendships and relationship? Is our success measured by our contribution to society, our popularity, our wealth?
Or is all of this a lie, and the true level of success is those that are with you when you have very little to offer?
A thought provoking tale, that as a woman I found very refreshing to read. It’s not very often that we get an insight into the friendships of men. The ones I tend to see and understand revolve around music and beer. I can think of only one male friendship where the bond between them is furthered onto a mutual support level and it’s one of the strongest male bonds I know. They’re like men behaving badly, completely hilarious, ridiculous and can usually found in the pub, but their friendship is brilliant.
CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING 4/5
Honestly I didn’t put this down the whole time I was on holiday. It took me just three mornings to read it and I never found myself bored or wishing any pages away. At times I found each character frustrating, but equally each moment was understandable from that character’s perspective.
The only negative I would state is that I found the book a little predictable, it wasn’t exciting as such, equally the plot begins very early on in the story – hence why I can’t write much for fear of giving it a way!!
However if you want a quick, heartwarming yet thought provoking read with plenty of comical moments, pick it up this summer.
Where to Buy:
High Street: Waterstones (Hardback) £14.99, or £8.99 (Paperback)
Online: Wordery (Paperback) £7.27 – FREE DELIVERY!
This one was washed down with Gin provided by the very lovely Head Bar Man at the Seasons Hotel Ayia Napa.
I strongly suggest you visit if you’re thinking of your next European holiday. You can check out my review on trip advisor (Emma-Bubbles), here:
Until the next Chapter,