Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Starting Over - Tony Parsons

Tony Parsons is an accomplished British author. He is a successful male "chick lit" writer, if you will. His novel Man and Boy is a best seller in many countries.

His latest, Starting Over, introduces us to George Bailey, a 42 yr old with a wonderful wife, and two children. He is struggling with his relationship with his son and wishes he could "stop the clock", but is fairly content. He is also a cop, stuck on a desk job, longing for the excitement of the street again. When he goes out with his fellow officer Keith on a seemingly straightforward call that goes bad, life changes - in a big way, for all of them.

George suffers a heart attack and eventually receives a donor heart. As he recovers, he feels 'different'. He sees this as "a chance to start again." His wife doesn't see it quite the same way. "You can't collect some money and return to Go. That's not life. That's a board game."George is determined though....

The novel is a interesting look at what it means to 'live' life, what is valuable and the relationships and dynamics of a family in transition. It is all done in a fairly light hearted style, but serious enough to make you take a second look at some of your own choices.

I must admit though, that I found George to be a bit of a pompous git. I know this attitude was part of his 'change', but I found it really difficult to forget and get past as the story progressed. I thought the character study of his son Rufus, coming into manhood and finding his own path at the same time his father is losing his an interesting juxtaposition. Without providing spoilers, I'm not sure I agree with the ending. I think it all depends on your viewpoint. Anyone else read this one yet?

I found some of Parson's descriptions very poignant. In describing an older woman's magazine..."her selected TV programmes circled in red, like fences around her loneliness."

You can browse inside Starting Over.


Anna said...

I haven't heard of this book or author, but I must admit that the idea of male chick lit intrigues me. I'm assuming these are chick-lit-type books geared toward male readers?

Diary of an Eccentric

Luanne said...

Hey Anna

In looking at his backlist I found that most of them are written with a male protagonist going through some life tribulations. Definitely written from a male point of view, but could appeal to both sexes to read. I did find that I was less sympathetic to the lead character in this one and leaned more towards his wife.

carolsnotebook said...

Sounds like one I'm going to pass on. I do like the Life is not a boardgame quote, though.

Jonita said...

I've read this one! In fact, here's my review:


I agree with you: George was not my favourite character. However, Tony Parson's writing style intrigued me enough that I picked up a copy of his bestselling book "My Favourite Wife" at the bookstore the other day. He has an easy rapport with his reader, so I have high hopes for this one. Despite the fact that George was annoying at times, I would still recommend this book to anyone who traditionally enjoys "women's fiction". Thanks for the review, Luanne!

bermudaonion said...

Do you think it's a coincidence that the main character shares his name with the main character in the movie It's a Wonderful Life?

Luanne said...

Jonita - I enjoyed your review. He has a two book deal with Harper, so there should be a new one in the next year. I'm glad you enjoyed him. I didn't not enjoy it - I just wouldn't look him up again.

Kathy - I never even picked up on the name thing. I wonder if he did that on purpose?

B.Kienapple said...

I love the phrase 'pompous git'. Well played.