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Starting Over - Tony Parsons

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Tony Parsons / Edition: 1st Edition / Paperback / 320 Pages / Book is published 2009-08-06 by Harper

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      22.07.2012 11:22
      Very helpful



      Entertaining read

      ==Synopsis of the book:==

      George Bailey has been given a second chance in life. At 47 after a heart attack he is given the heart of a 19 year old. He has a job in the Police force and a settled family home although he understandably worries his two teenage children. He is a firm father to them and has an attractive and wonderful relationship with his wife Lara.

      However he soon finds he feels very differently about his life. As no longer is he a stern father he know feels more like a friend to them. He is more laid back and feels everyone should follow their hearts and not be afraid to dream. Not only does he feel different but he acts different and wants to make love to his wife as often as possible, he wants to play sport again and enjoy himself. This changing character has some unexpected developments within the family and consequently George soon finds out that being different has some damaging side effects and now he would like to go back to his old life again.

      ==My thoughts on this novel:==

      I found this an enjoyable and always interesting piece of fiction. It was different to what I expected and on the whole I found it a good read. What really appealed to me was the initial concept and I liked the idea of this settled man in middle age suddenly behaving differently and what the sometimes surprising consequences where of these actions. And I found his actions understandable as he could have died had they not found a donor to save his life.

      It is not a concept I really understand and I thought it was unlikely that he would behave more like a 19 year old than a middle age man. Although I certainly understood that he would feel he had been given a second chance and that the life he had previously led was dull and did not involve trying to make a difference. I did not think a new heart could or would change him as much as it seemed to, to me it was more a state of mind.

      This book has been on my pile to read for ages after a friend recommended it. To be honest it was good to have a change of reading material and this was the type of book that I had absolutely no idea what would happen next within the story. That is something I always find appealing but in murder mysteries it is quite often obvious what will happen next!! I was immediately impressed with the cover of the book. Firstly there was the title, along with the idea of how many chances do we get to get it right. It reminded me in a way of Ground Hog Day, and I thought it was a concept we all consider and how sometimes we wonder what would have happened if we had done something differently.

      So I flipped the book over to see what it was all about in the summary on the back cover. It was three short paragraphs long but in that time the author set the scene well. I liked the concepts behind the story and it certainly made me think about them. I wanted to know how and what George would do now he had a new heart and how life would change for him and his family. Added to this below the summary there where two compliments written specifically about this book from two recognised papers.

      This author is not a writer I am familiar with Tony Parsons wrote his life novel when he was just seventeen. He was born in Essex in 1955 and before writing full time his jobs included working at the Gordon's Gin distillery and a punk journalist for the New Music Express. He has so far written nine fictional stories and three non-fictional ones. This story was first published in 2009.

      The book was split into three separate parts and the tittle of these gave you a clue to a couple of the themes within this part. Although before the first chapter there was a kind of epilogue although it was not called this, that I did not fully understand it until I really got into the story. It was five pages long and at first I didn't see its relevance to the story, but I was just being thick as in hindsight it was obvious. Although I think in my defence the author could have spelt it out more clearly or expanded this section so that there was more background to the story.

      As soon as the first chapter began I enjoyed learning all about George Bailey and his life. It was interesting although I was surprised that this Policeman was so sensitive about his relationships with all the members of his family. Maybe it was the stereotype I was thinking about, because he was a big man in size and structure doing a tough job but he was still trying to keep close to his teenage children who where trying to find their own identities within society.

      The only thing I struggled with was the author very quickly went from one scene to another. And while under normal situations this would not be a problem in this story sometimes it was for me because the writer did not include enough detailed descriptions so that I understood for example if it was a dream or not and how we had got to this situation. I just felt more background to the scene would have helped and made it obvious as sometimes I felt confused and as if I was missing something obvious.

      For me the story started to blossom once George had received his new heart. I found I could understand that he wanted to know who had saved his life and how grateful he was to the dead man. I thought this could have been incorporated more into the story and he could have formed a relationship with the dead man's family. I thought by not doing this the author missed a trick. Although this in part was made up for by the changing developments within George's family, in which he made some different decisions that had profound implications on their lives. I really enjoyed seeing the results of these played out sometimes with very unexpected consequences.

      The story had a really good feel about it and while it was only written from George's view point, through intelligent writing and good observations you could usually tell what the various members of his family thought. Some of the developments where unexpected and cleverly thought out. The whole story had a good feel about it and it often made me think and smile as what was happening. With a conclusion that was certainly fitting with the rest of the story but in my opinion lacked a real cutting edge to it.

      One of the key features of the story and one I really appreciated was the humour within it. It was often quite subtle but through good writing you could picture the scene and it at times had me chuckling at it. While at other times the author brought up or dealt with a serious issue and luckily he did not try and get a cheap laugh when dealing with it.

      George was the main character in the story and I found him a very likeable and easy to relate to man. Most of his actions where easy to understand and I liked the way his thoughts about life changed dramatically after the heart operation. I thought this was justified although I did not foresee what the consequences of these actions. For his family this must have been confusing especially for Lara his wife who was having to deal with his husband now acting like a teenager again and the problems this created.

      For me the story was a little short. I would have liked more detail and I think this would have benefited the story. As the author had some excellent ideas and these could have been developed, expanded upon and added to. I thought in some respects it was an opportunity missed. Although at the same time a sequel could be written and George could revert to his very different philosophy to life. As this created no end of problems within his family.


      I thought this was an interesting story and certainly one that had me amused at various times. As such I would recommend it because in the main it was a light-hearted read and one that was very different from either what I usually read or anything I have tried before. My only concern was I thought the author could have expanded some scenes as I struggled on occasions to appreciate exactly what was going on.

      ==Other Information:==

      Paperback version:

      Pages: 320
      Price: 5.99
      Publisher: Harper
      ISBN-10: 0007226519
      ISBN-13: 978-0007226511
      Year first published: 2009

      Thanks for reading my review.

      This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.

      © CPTDANIELS July 2012.


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