Usually, I am a typical kind of person who is more or less a gossip magazine reader, but a couple of weeks ago, I thought I should 'broaden my horizans' so to speak, and go to the library and take out a couple of books, to stem the boredom.
In the end I decided to take out two romantic comedy books and what looks like to be some kind of thriller (these books I haven't yet read). I am usually a slow reader, so I was expecting it to take atleast a week to finish this book, but surprisingly it must have been really good, as I finished it just three days, which must be some kind of record for me!
As the title might suggest, this book is all about making friends, at first that might sound kind of soppy but once you get into it it is a really good read. This book talks about the relationshiops between male friends, and about how it is sometimes difficult to make new friends once you have passed your thirties. Such discussions that males might have including what was the best 'record' that the rolling stones ever released.
The main character is called Rob, and when things start getting difficult between him and his long term girlfirend, Ashley, they decided that it would be best if they both moved to Manchester (where Ashley lives). This is how it starts and the rest of the story is based on how hard it is to make new friends.
Ashley even goes as far as to put an ad into the local paper for a 'male date'! After a while he meets up with a girl called Jo and even though she is a girl compares being with her more like with being with soome of his old mates back in London, which he considers to be a bonus!
I really liked this book, and for someone who doesn't read alot that really a very good thing! I would definately recomend this to everyone, as it is written in such a way that you can relate to both the female chapters and the male chapters. I would love to get my hands on come other books that Mike Gayle has written!
I love Mike Gayle's books. They are so relaxed and easy to read and as they are written by a bloke they give a different perspective compared to the books I usually read. His style is so conversational that it almost feels that you are just having a chat with a mate. I definitely felt like this when I read 'Brand New Friend'.
Unsurprisingly, this book is all about friendships, particularly the kind that exists between lads and mainly consists of going down the pub for a pint and talking about a strange array of subjects. It might sound like nothing to anyone else but it's very important to decide who was the best looking screen actress of all time of whether Paul or John was the most influential Beatle! This is the type of relationship that Rob has with his mates in London but he also loves his girlfriend Ashley and she lives in Manchester. This is where the problem lies because if their relationship is to work out one of them has to move, and for a number of practical reasons it makes more sense if it is Rob.
That is how finds himself in Manchester and all of a sudden he is 'Billy no-mates!' Ashley introduces Rob to her friends' husbands and boyfriends but for various reasons they just don't click. Rob becomes quite miserable and desperate in his quest for some male bonding which leads him to some quite bizarre actions. What he soon realises though is that it's extremely hard to start making new friends in your thirties. Ashley is so worried about him too that she even puts a personal ad in the local paper - 'newly arrived bloke in the area seeks mates for drinking!' - that sort of thing! At first Rob is entirely aghast particularly as he thinks that it's all a bit 'gay' but he goes along with trying to meet some likeminded friends! However at the same time he keeps bumping into a girl called Jo who for some reason reminds him more of his London mates than anyone else he has met. They actually start hanging out together and at last Rob feels more settles and even Ashley approves. The big question is though - can they really just be good friends or is it bound to lead to something more?
The rest of the book charts their friendship and features lots of interesting 'laddish' conversations but all the time there lies lurking that unanswered question that I have just mentioned. It all makes very enjoyable reading.
I really loved this book. I thought all the characters were great - both likeable and believeable and they felt like the sort of people I wouldn't mind going to the pub with! I liked all the insights into Rob's way of thinking which were often very funny.
It's a good storyline which is very successful due to lots of misunderstandings and it's also very funny although often in quite an excrutiating way - for example when Rob goes along on his 'bloke-dates'. The story is written in nice short sections too so it's always very easy to read just a bit more! In fact I read most of the book on two one hour train journeys and the time just flew by.
I really do recommend this book - it's enjoyable, light and lots of fun! It's well worth reading!
Brand New Friend is available on Amazon for £5.49.
I've read a few of his now and enjoyed them all. 4.5 stars would suit this nicely. It's difficult to tell if he aims his writing at men or women because he captures both gender's personalities and behaviour so well.
Rob is having a tough time, he loves his girlfriend but the move to Manchester from London is a scary prospect. He eventually gives it a go but struggles with how to make friends. Had he not been working from home it might have been easier but without the office then it is that bit harder - although he could've always joined a local gym or something similar. He eventually meets the perfect mate to do all the things with that he was doing with Phil back in Manchester - but she's a girl. In steps Jo, everything he wants in a mate but can't really have because men and women can't just be friends, can they?
The novel dips in and out of Jo's and Rob's perspective so makes for regular changes during your reading. Is it possible for men and women to be 'just good friends' or does there always have to be an element of sexual attraction between them? Quite interesting as I've had a couple of male friends and when I moved away they didn't keep up the contact whereas a woman would have. Good exploration of social stereotypes and the gneuine difficulties people face when they move to be with their partners.
It is very well-written and hugely entertaining, this novel is easy enough to read in one sitting. The characters are so realistic and the discussion between his girlfriend and her friends is very true - they are all convinced that Rob must be in love with Jo, otherwise why would he want to be friends with a girl? It made me wonder how I would react to it. I look forward to reading one or two more by Mike Gayle.