I thoroughly enjoyed The Stag and Hen Weekend by Mike Gayle, so was pleased to receive his latest release, Seeing Other People, for review. I received a hardback copy and I was drawn to the cover which I thought was memorable. Here is the synopsis:
‘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...’(Courtesy of Mike Gayle's website.)
I’ll admit that I was a bit ambivalent about the idea reading a book with a ghost in it, even though I was drawn to the idea of the story itself. I haven’t read many books in the genre that feature a ghost but actually, I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve read that have, so I approached the book with an open mind.
Another Mike Gayle book I enjoyed from start to finish. I enjoyed seeing the world through a man’s viewpoint (and Joe’s is the only viewpoint) and going through the emotional roller coaster ride with him. Joe appears to have it all, but this one night where his fidelity in question threatens everything and we certainly feel his world crumble around him.
I initially found the build-up to the night in question a bit strange, in that I never particularly felt Joe was leaning strongly towards any kind of affair, and we know from the blurb that he never actually has one, but I suppose that we need to like Joe and we perhaps need to be a bit flummoxed ourselves as readers, just as Joe is. So I did have to get my head around the fact that a majority of the book is played out as if Joe has been unfaithful, even though we know he hasn’t had one by the blurb, and hints by Fiona the ghost at different intervals. I was eager to know how it would resolve itself, how and would Joe ever be able to get his family back in his present or an alternative one?
Clearly Fiona the ghost was important for the narrative, and after the first couple of appearances she appeared less frequently and I sometimes completely forgot she ‘existed,’ I was so immersed in life as Joe was experiencing it. The emotion was very raw at times, it really tugs at the heartstrings, both in terms of Joe’s relationship with his children and the scenes with his new-found friends at a divorced dad’s club (I loved these characters).
The book has a bit of a feel of It’s a Wonderful Life about it and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. I enjoy Mike’s style of writing very much and if you haven’t read anything by him yet, I’d definitely recommend his work.
Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the book in exchange for an honest review.
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