==Synopsis of the book:==
Life for Harry Silver is rarely straight forward or simple. He is struggling to come to terms with life in his early 40's. He is happily married to his second wife Cyd and they have one child a six year old girl called Joni. While they both have a child from their previous marriages Peggy and Pat. The new school term has just began and 14 year old Pat is changing, no longer does he want anything to do with Star Wars its now football and girls that interest him.
However after nearly a decade abroad Pat's mother Gina returns to London and wants to start building a relationship with him. This new development will have massive repercussions on Pat and Harry as very soon his son decided he no longer wants to live with his Dad and he wants to move into his Mother's home. Harry feel rejected and struggles to deal with the lose in daily contact with his son.
As if this wasn't bad enough he is facing an uncertain future as his job as producer on a cult radio show is now under threat as a new broom is looking for change. Meanwhile he starts a friendship with two old soldiers who served with his late father in 1944. They are not aware he has passed on but he sees in Ken Grimwood a lot of the qualities he so admired in his father. Harry is keen to help these old War hero's in any way he can seeing they are rejected by society in general despite their exploits during the Second World War.
=My thoughts on the novel:==
I am very undecided on whether I enjoyed this piece of fiction or not. The problem I have while it was always an interesting and sometimes a thought provoking read, I felt the author moved on from one topic to another too quickly and did not do justice to the topic he had brought up. I found this really annoyed me and while I liked the story in general maybe the author had too many ideas and as a result failed for me to share enough insight into the characters perspectives to do them complete justice.
The author Tony Parsons is one I am slightly familiar with as I read his previous story in this series 'Man and Wife' a few weeks ago. This I enjoyed and I found it quite different to the usual thrillers I read. In both he brought up some wonderful ideas and raised some interesting questions. What I like about this one is it was written in 2010 several years after the previous one from 2002. This has allowed Harry and his family time to change and so now they face different challenges to the ones they faced then and it also gives the reader a chance to see what is now happening to them all.
Having enjoyed the previous novel in this three book series I was very keen to try this one when I spotted it on line. I never judge an author on just one book so I was keen to see how this compared to the other one. When I saw the book in the bookshop I was immediately drawn to the interesting cover of a pair of trainers on what looked like a washing line. I wasn't sure what the author meant by this but I was keen to find out.
So I flipped the book over to the back cover which was full of raise for the authors other two books in the series. Frankly I do not see the value of doing this as I would if anything like to know what the critics thought of the book I am about to read not other ones. This annoyance aside I checked out the summary on the inside cover. This was a good size and I was impressed with the ideas the author shared. There seemed plenty happening to Harry and his growing family and I was keen to catch up with these new developments.
As soon as I started reading the story I was drawn into it. It began with the first day of a new school year and Harry taking his eldest son Pat to school, where his son was admiring an attractive girl while sitting in the car. I enjoyed the interaction between Harry and Pat and they way their thought ideas where so different and how neither really understood the others viewpoint. What they both failed to see was they were quite different in many ways and what Harry for example wanted for his son was different to what Pat wanted or thought he could achieve.
The story kept bringing new and interesting ideas into the mix. I like the two old War heroes becoming part of the story and the way Pat's mother returned. However what I increasingly found as these and other ideas followed was the author failed to many cases to see some of the impact of these changes through. By this I also mean he did to share enough of the characters feelings and thoughts about these developments. I would have preferred a few fewer concepts but covered in more detail, as I felt he flicked from one to another without giving me the detail I required.
That said I did enjoy must of these concepts and they seemed generally in keeping to their family life. With Harry being the main character in the story you got to see mainly his perspective on events. This is fine and while he was not always right in what he did you could at least understand how he usually felt. However I did struggle a little as in the course of the book he seemed to have changed from a struggling father not understanding anyone but himself to quite a wise old owl who understood and excepted we all want different things in life and have a different view of it from us. For me this was unrealistic and while I can accept we all can grow and learn I find it heart-warming but it also seemed quite unlikely to me.
It was the type of story that has most things except murder!! I did enjoy the way the story covered a number if very different subjects and some of these where quite thought provoking. However I did not find this book very humorous as I got the impression the author was at times trying to be. I was disappointed with this as I had expected humour to play a key role within the story. However for me it was not necessary as there was more than enough to think about throughout it and wit for me would have taken away from the important and moving parts of the story.
The story for me had a good feel about it and I found the book difficult to put down without ever being convinced by it. I think the reason was I was intrigued to know what would happen next to the few characters in the story. And while it rarely took me be surprise I did enjoy the way the story developed. With the concluding chapter doing well at tieing all the loose threads of the story together so that should the author create a new one in the future it will not need to hark back to previous unresolved issues.
Harry Silver is the series main character. For me he is a good one to lead the series as he is a man struggling with his changing role both within the family and society in general. I find him easy to relate to with the author good at explaining his feelings. However on his own it would be a weak story as he is supported by some interesting and well thought out personalities, that helped to enhance it. A good example of this was Ken Grimwood who was a wonderful creation who was always doing the unexpected and never conforming to what society expected of him.
While I enjoyed the book itself, it just really bothered me that different parts of the story where not dealt with in enough detail. They were shelved at various times and returned to later. I felt these needed to be ongoing to show their importance and to have shared all the relevant perspectives on them. For this reason alone I feel I cannot recommend the book despite its thought provoking issues it deals with.
Despite this being the second novel in the Harry Silver series I am still not convinced by this author. Yes he has some wonderful ideas and creates some really good through provoking scenes. However it is the way he at times just drops an important topic and moves onto another subject that really annoys me. For me with some of these he should keep it in the background while he carries on the story not drop them completely and return to them later in the story. They are important issues and they would not be forgotten about as the story seems to suggest.
First Published: 2010
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under by user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS September 2012.
This is a review of the 2011 book "Men from the boys" by Tony Parsons. It is actually the third book in a trilogy and I had just read the second book when I realised this was sitting on the 'to be read' shelf of the book case. It must have been a charity shop purchase I think because I can't remember buying or swapping it. I decided to read it straight away whilst book two was still fairly fresh in my mind.
The book follows Harry Silver who is knocking 40 years old. He has an ex-wife (Gina) and their son Pat, a current wife Cyd and her daughter Peggy and Harry and Cyd have a daughter together called Joni. An old man called Ken enters Harry's life; he was a friend of his father when he was alive, they both fought in the war together. For some reason, Harry gets quite attached to Ken and begins to spend a lot of time with him and his mates just enjoying their pastimes (betting!) together.
Harry has come a long way from book two which is set a few years previous. He seems to have stopped lusting after Gina and any other woman who looks his way. He is as before totally devoted to his son and the girls and tries to be a good dad to them. Cyd is still quite a mysterious character, she doesn't seem happy in her marriage and has close ties to her ex-husband Jim (Peggy's dad).
This book really is typical of family life and nothing really monumental happens in the book. Its title, 'Men from the boys' suggests solidarity amongst men, growing up and a general acceptance that life is not easy and that we must all toughen up to face the challenges in life. In the book, Pat is unhappy at school as he is being bullied by the tough kids in school. He is academically bright but distractions like girls are leading him astray and Harry struggles with how to handle him. He seems afraid to discipline him as he knows he will lose him to his mother and doesn't want that to happen.
A manly read?
I think men would enjoy reading this book too as it is written by a man and from Harry's perspective. There is not a lot of girly stuff going on there (except for the 'office' at the strip club but that's a different kind of girly!) but I don't mind that as I find it boring to read back to back chic lit and like to mix it up a bit anyway.
Price and availability
This book is available on Amazon for £5.59 with free delivery. There are also nine copies available to swap on readitswapit (including my copy!).
I liked how much Harry had matured and moved on but still felt that he wasn't that bothered about his job and career and which way that was going. As a provider for his family I wanted him to try a bit harder in that respect. The relationship that developed between Pat and Ken was wonderful, neither judged each other and they were both comfortable in each other's presence. I didn't read book one in the trilogy but kind of picked up what had happened in book two so book three read on seamlessly really. I don't think I will bother reading book one any time soon but I did quite enjoy reading this book. I would recommend it in the context of reading the other books but to pick this up blankly may leave you lacking some of the detail that fills in Harry's past.
'Men from the Boys' is actually the third part of a trilogy and is authored by Tony Parsons. But the funny thing is that I didn't realise it was part of a trilogy right until after I'd finished reading it! I guess this shows that it is a stand-alone book, but now that I've finished it, I am quite keen to read parts one and two! The first two parts are called 'Man and Boy' and 'Man and Wife' respectively.
'Men from the Boys' centres around a male character called Harry Silver and is a touching story about Harry's seemingly perfect life. Except his life isn't that perfect. It begins to fall apart as he loses his highly paid job, his ex-wife comes back into town, and approaches his 40th birthday. Harry is forced to reflect on his life when two ex-soldiers that fought alongside his deceased father make an unexpected entrance into his life. What results is really quite a heartfelt book about the deeper meanings of life that can somehow pass us by as we coast along. This book forces the reader to think about the important relationships that exist between parent and child. But what's interesting is that this is not a book that was written for women - this is very much a man's fictional novel, and therefore it presents things from a very interesting perspective (for me at least as I am female).
I really did enjoy this book. It didn't get my attention straightaway and I did feel that the beginning doesn't really do the story much justice. In fact I found myself being a bit annoyed at certain points, but it was entertaining enough to keep me going. The story really comes into its own when the two ex-soldiers arrive, as Harry's interaction with them makes him think of his own father, and often, his relationship with his own son. Tony Parson's does a brilliant job here of really engaging the reader, particularly any reader that has a family of their own. And as I already said, because this book is written from a man's perspective, the female characters (Harry's ex and current wife) very much take a backseat, but without losing the significance they have in Harry's life.
I would highly recommend this book to male friends of a certain age group (late 30s to early 40s) with families of their own and who enjoy a fictional read every now and again. It was almost like deep and meaningful chick-lit for men. The story was quite realistic as it was based on a man that had a child with an ex-wife, but also a child with his current wife. The way that Harry juggles these relationships is really quite interesting to read about and quite appealing to any reader in a similar situation, as there'd be something there for them to relate to.
The way the story ended was quite satisfying. I always try not to judge a book by its ending, but I find that hard as it's the bit I usually remember the most and a disappointing ending can leave me feeling frustrated! But I felt that 'Men from the Boys' ended much better than it started. And like I said, I'd now like to get my hands on the other two books that precede this one!
To summarise - a great read on a male perspective on life and the important relationships we form as part of it!