Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Book review: Frank Derrick's Holiday of a Lifetime by J.B. Morrison


My edition: Paperback, published on 4 June 2015 by Pan, 352 pages.

Description: Frank Derrick is eighty-two. And apparently that makes him old. But he just doesn't feel old. Sure, his limbs ache, he can't sleep more than a few hours a night and it takes him a while to get going in the morning. But he's still Frank. A dad, a granddad, a friend to Bill the cat.

So when he receives a phone call from Los Angelos with news that his grown-up daughter's life is falling apart, his natural instinct is to drop everything to be with her. Unfortunately for Frank, that means using his life savings and putting himself in danger of losing his home. But then, Frank's never been one for long-term plans. He can sort out where he and Bill the cat will live when he's back.

And so Frank gets on a plane for the first time in his life. He was never much good at helping his daughter through crises when she was growing up. He left all that to his wife Sheila, who died nearly ten years ago. Now it's time to step up to his role of father to Beth. Joining forces with his determined granddaughter Laura, they begin The Reunion Project in an attempt to bring some happiness back into Beth's life and to bring the family back together again for one happy family holiday.

Rating:



I loved The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 when I had the opportunity to review it last year, which was an incredibly heartwarming novel telling the story of an extra ordinary octogenarian in a unique and charming way. And so when the publicists asked if I wanted to review the follow up novel too, I didn't have to think twice!

Fully recovered from being run over by a milk float, which was the starting point of the first book, Frank Derrick is feeling a bit lonely at home. His carer Kelly Christmas no longer visits because he can take care of himself again, his best friend Smelly John has passed away and while he still makes frequent trips to the local charity shop and he has his cat Bill to keep him company, it's his family that he misses the most.

His daughter Beth is living in America with her own grown-up daughter, Laura, and when Beth is diagnosed with cancer and her marriage has run its course, Frank finally takes his landlord up on the offer of buying him out of his contract and he uses the proceeds to get plane tickets for both himself and Bill to sunny California, so he can take care of his daughter. From getting passport photos to his actual time visiting America, each really rather normal thing he does turns into an extra-ordinary adventure through Frank's uniquely dry approach and author J.B. Morrison's witty humour sprinkled throughout.

It was a joy to revisit Frank (and Bill) in this novel and get an insight into another part of his life, which only got a fleeting mention before; his family. Getting to know Beth and Laura gave a different perspective on Frank and so did his changing surroundings, showing how quickly he can adapt to things, even at his age. In the first book he was mostly confined to his own home because of the accident, and so it was a very small world we had the chance to peak into, this time around he came across as a much more worldly individual, which made some of his 'oddities' even more prominent.

While this foremost reads like a humorous and fun novel, which is immensely uplifting through its heartwarming cast of characters, Frank's hilarious escapades and Bill's dry observations of the world (according to Frank, that is), there were also many poignant moments about loneliness, illness and the vulnerability of the elderly, which doesn't often get a voice in this type of fiction - even though it really should. I think it's really great when a novel manages to be both a hugely entertaining piece of fiction and a story that really makes the reader think (and in this instance perhaps spurt them on to visit an elderly relative, or even stranger, for some much-needed companionship).

Frank Derrick's Holiday of a Lifetime is a moving and memorable read, filled with quirky characters, hilarious events and a brilliantly unique voice in octogenarian protagonist Frank. I for one can't wait to read about what he'll be undertaking next; it can be as something as mundane as moving house but I know for a fact that Frank will be able to turn it into an extra-ordinary adventure.

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.



Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with him online at:

Website: www.jim-bob.co.uk

Twitter: @mrjimBob / @MrJBMorrison


Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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