I often find that the books that I remember the most are not those that come from my ‘favourite’ genres of crime and psychological thrillers, but from other genres. I’m not sure where you shelve uplifting and life-affirming reads but Something to Live For is first and foremost in the category for 2019.
Andrew works for the council where one of his duties is to trace the relatives of those who have died with no known family. Anyone who has worked in an office will recognise some elements of Andrew’s work, especially the absurdity of his manager Cameron. Cameron was both arguably the cause of the misunderstanding around the existence of Andrew’s family and his panic over the exposure of the actual non-existence of the carefully crafted wife and two children. So far so amusing around a man who is so sad he has invented a make-believe family, but intriguingly this is a springboard to a story far broader, and deeper than the one you might be expecting.
One day a new employee arrives, Peggy Green and rolls up her sleeves, literally, to help Andrew search through the debris of some poor deceased man’s home to find links to family. Having warded off some chancer on the doorstep, and searched meticulously it appears that the man will have a ‘pauper’s funeral’ i.e. one only attended by the vicar and Andrew who does so out of the wish that someone witnessed the event. Peggy however is the catalyst for Andrew to look at the realities of his life. Meanwhile Cameron is pushing ahead with his plans to get the team to bond via a Come Dine with Me series of evenings – obviously Andrew with his make-believe life is going to run into problems but let’s face it many of us shudder at the mere thought of being forced to bond with our colleagues, especially in our own time!
This is a book that starts off as being mildly entertaining and then slowly creeps up on you and steals your heart. Partly that’s because it truly does take you through the range of emotions, and perhaps these feel a bit more authentic because they are from a man’s point of view which arguably isn’t as overworked as the female perspective in this type of book. Another plus is Andrew is just an average man; he has no disability physical or mental, his love of model trains is not dressed up as something anything other than it is and I for one found that incredibly refreshing. This could be a classified as a book about loneliness, and it is one of those books that makes you reflect and consider how easily that someone can come adrift from society but it is also about the essential goodness of people, something I think has been delivered in a timely manner when all around us seems to be endless news about the harm people do to each other.
I was extremely grateful to receive an advance copy of Something to Live For from the publishers Orion Publishing Group ahead of publication date of today! This unbiased review is my thanks to them, and the author Richard Roper for an entertaining yet thoughtful story which reflects a part of life that we prefer not to see!
First Published UK: 27 June 2019
No. of Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary Fiction