This Book Will Save Your Life Paperback
by A. M. Homes
Short listed for the Richard & Judy Book Club 2007.
An uplifting story set in Los Angeles about one man's effort to bring himself back to life.
Richard is a modern day everyman; a middle-aged divorcee trading stocks out of his home.
He has done such a good job getting his life under control that he needs no one.
His life has slowed almost to a standstill, until two incidents conspire to hurl him back into the world.
One day he wakes up with a knotty cramp in his back, which rapidly develops into an all-consuming pain.
At the same time a wide sinkhole appears outside his living room window, threatening the foundations of his house.
A vivid novel about compassion and transformation, "This Book Will Save Your Life" reveals what can happen if you are willing to open up to the world around you.
Since her debut in 1989, A.M. Homes has been among the boldest and most original voices of her generation, acclaimed for the psychological accuracy and unnerving emotional intensity of her storytelling.
Her keen ability to explore how extraordinary the ordinary can be is at the heart of her touching and funny new novel, her first in six years.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 380 pages
- Publisher: Granta Books
- Publication Date: 29/01/2007
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781862079335
- CD-Audio from £13.25
Showing 1 - 5 of 18 reviews.
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Review by hotchk155
The book follows central character Richard Novak through a middle-aged reawakening from a highly successful yet lonely and frustrated existence. Starting with the onset of huge amorphous, unexplained physical pain the book continues through a series of random events and characters against the background of a physically disintegrating Los Angeles. It is simultanously sad and uplifting, depressing and hopeful, and at times is very funny. Falling a little short of a 'Catcher in the Rye' for middle age, this is still a very good read. However I reckon A.M.Holmes could have taken a leaf out of Salinger's book by keeping it a bit shorter.
Review by Fantasma
This was not a good time to read this book as I had little time and it took me so long to read it, even if sometimes I just didn't want to let it go. The book deserved to be read for some hours in a row, to really enjoy all the weird stuff that it was happening all the time.Is life and people in LA really that strange? It just seemed unbelievable that so many surreal, bizarre and funny thing could happen to a single guy :) Loved how is neighbour was almost always refered to as "the movie actor", loved the sudden appearence of Bob Dylan, loved Anhil and his doughnut shop and philosophy, loved how all the characters had so much in them and we couldn't decide if they were real or if we were reading a science fiction book ;o)This book won't save my life but it saved Richard's and it gives me stuff to think about.That ending leaves us wondering about so many thing. And that cover just gave me a constant crave for donuts!!! Arghhhh :op
Review by thorold
I've never been to Los Angeles, but this book describes the place very much as I would have imagined it -- possibly that is why another LT member speculates whether Homes has ever really lived there? It is the deeply-flawed California of <i>The Loved One</i> or <i>The Tortilla Curtain</i> that is being described here, not the darkly-romantic city of Raymond Chandler.The satire is splendid, and I read the book with considerable pleasure (in one sitting, during a long train journey), but the plot felt a little unbalanced to me. Novak is able to solve all his problems by throwing money at them, but never seems to be any poorer as a result. In a satirical novel, you would expect that to be a vehicle for satirising the capitalism that underpins American society, but Novak is presented as a sympathetic character who becomes a better, more complete, human being, largely as a result of all this philanthropy. No-one seems to make more than a token protest when he gives them large amounts of money. All very odd when seen from a European perspective. In an English novel, we would expect Novak's credit card to be blocked halfway through the book, forcing him to live as a lodger in his former housekeeper's spare room and redeem himself by honest toil, but here the worst thing that happens to him is that his house starts to fall down and he has to rent a beach house with only three bathrooms for a while...Even though the final scene (stolen from E.F. Benson, but who cares?) is superb, we are left feeling rather incomplete at the end of the book. As someone else observed, Homes successfully manages to induce in the reader a craving for starchy, sugary foods of toroidal form, so perhaps it wasn't the ideal book to read on the train...
Review by judithann
Richard is very rich and does not do much but hang around the house buying and selling shares every now and then. He only sees his housekeeper, his nutritionist, and his trainer. He is very detached from his family (divorced, son lives far away with his ex-wife). Then one day, he is in great pain all over his body and ends up in hospital. On the way back from hospital, he buys some donuts (although he normally only eats what his nutritionist prepares for him), and befriends the donut shopkeeper.His house almost ends up in a hole, his actor-neighbour rescues a horse from the hole (by helicopter), he rents a different house, his son finally comes and visits, and they become a real father/son team. Meanwhile he also meets a woman in a shop who becomes his friend and moves in with him for a short while, but there is no love relationship. In a way, he recues her from too much family (so, the opposite situation from him), always running around for her husband and sons.Richard spends an awful lot of money on his house and the rented house, on his son and his new friends, hotelrooms and spas. At the end of the story he must be quite a bit less rich (his shares have not done too well either), he is floating in the sea (rather than living high up on a hill!), but instead of having very little contact with other people, he now is back in touch with his family, and has made several friends along the way.A very good read.
Review by hjjugovic
Richard Novak is an unlikely hero in this strangely involving story about the perils of a detached, isolated modern life. He may indeed save your life as he shows how being willing to involve yourself in the messy, chaotic realm of Other People's Lives can enrich your life, more than it will complicate it. Go have a donut!
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