Book Review: Man and Boy

Last Thursday night, I started to read ‘Man and Boy’, by Tony Parsons.

I finished it on Saturday afternoon.*

This is the first book that has consumed me so intensely since reading ‘The Help’; the first this year that has seen me neglect everything but my boys just so I could read.

I liked this book. A lot. I had no preconceived ideas, having only the blurb on the back to go by:

Harry Silver has it all: a beautiful wife, a wonderful son, a great job in the media – but one night he throws it all away. Then Harry must start to learn what life and love are really all about.

Okay, so that gave me some idea as to what might happen, but over the years I’ve learned that it’s often better not knowing anything about a novel before you start.

I thought I was going to dislike Harry for the choices he made, but I didn’t. I thought I was going to feel sympathy for his wife, Gina, but I didn’t. I thought I was going to feel incredibly sad for their son, Pat, but I didn’t. Well, maybe just a little bit.

I liked Parsons’ style. I liked the simple honesty of his writing, and the way he captured a father’s love for his son. I liked the way he dealt with an all-too-common scenario – separation – and made the characters’ reactions seem believable and honest, bitter and tender. I like the way he took a difficult topic and made it serious and light-hearted, and made it seem so real. And I like that the novel challenged the traditional parenting roles; it made me think about traditional custody arrangements and what would be best for a child in that situation.

I cried one minute and chuckled quietly to myself the next. I got caught up in what was going on, and really let myself be drawn in to the story. It had a couple of predictable moments, but for the most part, this didn’t follow the “rules”, and I like that. It was an easy read, but a good one.

And by the end of the story, I’d forgotten all about Harry’s indiscretion. I liked him; I didn’t like Gina. I guess I saw his actions as more forgivable than her’s…it would be interesting to see whether a woman without children would feel the same way.

* Those of you without children, or with older children, may be snorting into your coffee, thinking, “That’s not very quick”, but those of you with children, or young children at least, will probably have widening eyes, because you’ll know that having children usually means no time for reading.

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