Based on the title, I wasn’t interested. The words dull, desperate and gloomy drifted invisibly before my eyes. A widower is an old lady right? so this book will be hard to read, it will depress me and I will definitely struggle to turn the pages. I just need to make some more space on my bookshelf for more exciting books, because after all, life’s too short for ‘bad books’ (by bad books I mean books that aren’t of interest to you, there are no bad books, any kind of writing is an art.)
As I held the book to explore it a little further I read the snippet reviews and the DAILY MAIL has written “A wise-cracking, darkly comical tale….” Comical? How can a story about an old woman losing her husband and living a lonely existence until she dies be comical. How wrong was I? The protagonist is a man, a young man, who loses his wife in a plane crash. He is struggling to come to terms with his loss and to move forward, but it certainly isn’t depressing. It’s not often a book makes me laugh out loud but this one did on several occasions.Often I found my husband wanting in on the jokes, which isn’t so possible to share with a book, and particularly this book because it isn’t necessarily the jokes Tropper is sharing, but the witty writing style that makes you laugh, cringe and want to weep all at the same time.
Underneath the sadness of Doug’s loss is the story of narcissism. Almost each character; Claire and the relationship with her husband, Debbie with her wedding, Jim with his new family, Laney with her intimate desires, Russ with his teenage angst and troubles and Doug, probably most of all, with his loss. Doug has the worst grief in the world, nobody has experienced anything like the way he is feeling and most of all it is his, and only his, and nobody has the right to share his harrowing bereavement. However, as the story unfolds he begins to peep through the black hole, open up to the world around him and slowly begin to leave his sticky pool of self pity.
The dynamics of Doug’s dysfunctional family made me chuckle throughout, however the book also made me genuinely sad, accompanied by the elastic emotional belt being pulled just below my diaphragm. This was most pertinent in chapter 29, when Doug begins to date again. It all goes so wrong, but not intentionally. It made me think of a young child of 4 or 5 years who thinks they are doing as they have been asked and making the right choices, but in doing so make completely the wrong choices and end up being the ‘naughty’ one.
My favourite quote (which i think sums up the humour of the book but is also a great piece of advice) “Pity, I’ve learned is like a fart. You can tolerate your own, but simply can’t stand anyone else’s’ pg 99 said by Doug
Overall I would give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. Another new author to me but another great one. I would love to read more of his work.