Book Review – Something to Live For by Richard Roper

books, reviews

43166654._sx318_5_star_rating_system_4_stars1 I wasn’t sure that I was going to finish this book in time to write something tonight. It was super down to the wire. I men I only finished it an hour ago. Not because it wasn’t an enjoyable book but because I’ve been rubbish recently. Plus, my sister brought my niece round on Monday and it really cut down on my reading time. Plus, the usual laziness and binge-watching that prevents me from getting stuff done. But at least this brings up my total for books read this month. I needed to get one more in before August ended. It’s not been a great one in terms of page numbers. Can I blame the weather? Or the fact that I’ve been busy at work? Doubtful but that’s not going to stop me. Instead, let’s just rejoice in the fact that I’m managed to finish something and can actually get this review written.

I don’t think I’ve ever really stopped to think about the practicalities of somebody dying alone. I mean really alone. What happens to the people who have no friends and family to organise everything? Richard Roper’s book answers that question. Meet Andrew. He works for the council. He’s the guy who goes into the homes of people who have died without anyone’s knowledge. It’s is Andrew’s job to search for any evidence of family. It’s a pretty bleak job but one that he tries to tackle with respect. And, though it’s not part of his role, Andrew attends the funerals of each person. Most of the time it’s just him and the priest saying farewell to a complete stranger.

Despite everything, Andrew has a pretty good time at work. He gets on well with enough with his boss and he puts up with his coworkers. And, as far as everyone knows, at the end of the day, he goes home to his wife and two kids. The only problem is, Diane, David, and Steph are fictional. Andrew lives on his own in a dingy flat. Instead of spending his evening curled up on the sofa with his wife, he watches his model trains go round, listens to Ella Fitzgerald, and talks to his online associates. It’s not the life he would have chosen for himself but it works. Until a new coworker makes him see that things don’t have to be that way anymore.

Something to Live For is an interesting book. It’s sad, funny, and utterly frustrating at times. Andrew has a lot in common with Eleanor Oliphant in that he is completely charming and loveable despite being incomprehensible at times. There were so many times during reading this book that I just wanted to scream at him for making some of the decisions he made.  Still, you can’t help but root for the guy. Especially because it’s clear that he has experienced some awful things in his life. Andrew is a very vulnerable person and, through a series of flashbacks, we begin to piece together what happened to him. It’s not exactly the big hit twist that it could have been but finally hearing his story is a big moment in the novel. And, let’s be honest, the twist in Eleanor Oliphant wasn’t exactly difficult to work out either.

Whilst this book isn’t the most original or breathtaking novel, I did enjoy reading it. I think it could have done more with some of its themes and should have played down others. I, for one, think Andrew’s relationship with Peggy moves a bit too far into the Hollywood rom-com territory that doesn’t fit with the rest of the book. It’s a bit jarring and could have been handled differently. Although, I did really enjoy reading this book. It was fun and tender. Despite the potentially upsetting nature of its narrative, the story is uplifting and incredibly positive. Thanks, in part, to the charming and witty writing. There are a lot of heartwarming moments to offset the heartbreaking ones. But, most of all, this book is a good portrayal of humanity. And not the type of humanity that we’re used to. This delves into the murky waters of loneliness. Yes, it may have been done better elsewhere but I still had a good time reading this.

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