Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Best of Adam Sharp

Title:  The Best of Adam Sharp
Author:  Graeme Simsion
Publication Information:  St. Martin's Press. 2017. 336 pages.
ISBN:  1250130409 / 978-1250130402

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "If my life prior to February 15, 2012, had been a song, it might have been 'Hey Jude,' a simple piano tune, taking my sad and sorry adolescence and making it better."

Favorite Quote:  "And know your BATNA ... Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. What you'll end up with if the deal falls over - if the opportunity hadn't come along in the first place. The rule is:  don't make a deal unless it's going to give you a better future than you'll have without it."

First things first. The Best of Adam Sharp is nothing like The Rosie Project or The Rosie Effect. Yes, the book is centered on one main male character. That's about the only similarity. So, remove that expectation and then decide if this is a book for you.

Adam Sharp is a middle aged man in a long-term committed relationship. The book moves back and forth between two periods in his life - the present when an old flame who is not his current partner reaches out to him after twenty years and twenty years previously when that flame was still new.

Adam Sharp met Angelina Brown when he was on a work assignment in Australia. He was in Australia temporarily. She was living with her fame as an actress. She was also married. Sparks flew, and a relationship ensued.

Fast forward twenty years. Adam's relationship with Angelina was not to be. He is back home in England in a relationship with Claire. They have been together for years and are comfortable together. "We were a functioning household. We didn't fight; we enjoyed meals together on the weekends; we look out for each other. Good friends. Nobody writes songs about those things, but there is a lot to be said for them." However, are sparks still flying? That question becomes even bigger when out of the blue, Angelina reaches out to Adam again.

He is in a relationship. She is married. Where is this to lead? A trip down memory lane. A mid-life crisis. A regret for the path not taken. A dream of what might have been. A game of what if. A ditching of current responsibilities to run off into the sunset. The answer could be any one of these.

The book takes a circuitous and sometimes odd route getting there, but the end packages the answer in a nice neat package. Some of the turns, however, particularly the role of Angelina's husband and what happens in France, are not really for me. To paraphrase a saying, what happens in France stays in France. To each, his or her own. Unfortunately, that turn really takes the book in a direction, going from a sweet, reflective story about relationships and turns into a book on sexual encounters of a kind most definitely not for me. It's odd, not in keeping with Graeme Samson's other writing, and unnecessary to the story. It turns a memory of a young love into something else entirely.

A saving grace of the book is that the book has a soundtrack. As the author's notes says, "it is also a nod to the music and musicians that contributed so much to the life of my generation. If you don't know the songs in this book, I encourage you to download them and listen as you read:  there is a playlist at the end." The playlist is pretty long and has many songs that I know and enjoy. The playlist  exists in a number of online music services. Just search the name of the book. So, I took the author's advice and listened while I read. The book may not have been for me, but much of the playlist is.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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