Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Book review: Seeing Other People by Mike Gayle


My edition: Paperback (proof), to be published on 28th August 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton, 362 pages.

Description: Father of two Joe Clarke, is about seventy-eight per cent sure he's just had an affair. After all that is the hopelessly attractive office intern in bed next to him, isn't it? But then again if he did have an affair why can't he remember anything at all about the night in question?

Mortified by his mistake, Joe vows to be a better man. But when his adored wife Penny puts two and two together and leaves him, things start to take a turn for the decidedly strange.

Joe is told for a fact that he DIDN'T have an affair after all. He just thinks he did.

Which is great news . . . or at least it would be if the person who'd just delivered it wasn't the crisp-eating, overly perfumed and mean-spirited GHOST of his least favourite ex-girlfriend . . .

Rating:



Unfamiliar with author Mike Gayle, when I read the blurb for this novel I wasn't sure what to expect. Would it be a cheesy rom-com? A bizarre ghost story? A heart-wrenching family drama? Turns out it was a little bit of all of those and then some.

It took me a little while to get into the story, because while Joe was a compelling main character I found it difficult to come to terms with the ghost of his ex-girlfriend floundering about, which for me detracted somewhat from the seriousness of the situation he found himself in. After all, while his memory is hazy of the deed itself, he's under the impression that he has cheated on his wife of many years which puts both his marriage and the relationship with his young, impressionable children at risk. As a true family man, this is his worst nightmare come alive and from a reader's perspective it's interesting to see him try to come to terms first with the feeling of regret and disappointment in himself, and then with the inevitable loss of those he cares about most in the world.

The occasional scene with the ghost of his ex-girlfriend seemed very much out of place here and didn't seem to add anything of substance to the themes of infidelity, family and loss, which the novel focuses on. After having completely finished the book I understand why Mike Gayle decided to include this but the lack of focus on the seemingly random reappearances of his ex-girlfriend and the nuisance of this character throughout only served as a hindrance rather than an addition to the plot and story.

The true strength of this novel for me lay with Joe's personal growth and the importance of the Divorced Dads' Club in his life. This is also the original title of the novel and one that is much more befitting this story, as the divorced dads have left a lasting impression on me as a reader. While in the beginning of the novel they were merely some interviewees for one of Joe's stories, when his life falls apart all around him, they're the support group that gets him through the worst of it. And each of the men in the club have their own stories too, which are equally heartbreaking; I found myself getting quite emotional reading about the hardships they had to face in life.

It's rare to come across a novel with a male protagonist that depicts a powerful group of friends. It was not only refreshing to read such a different perspective on infidelity and the crumbling down of a family, but the individual stories of each of the dads were very well-written and I found them incredibly inspiring people.

You can pre-order a copy of the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com or your own preferred retailer.



Would you like to know more about the author? Connect with him online at:

Website: www.mikegayle.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mikegaylethenovelist

Twitter: @mikegayle


Many thanks to Lovereading for sending me a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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