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I have read most of Mike Gayle's books and found them to be enjoyable, easy to read novels. If I want something for a bit of light reading, then this is the kind of author I would seek out.
Gayle was born in Birmingham and has lived in London and Manchester - where this book is set - and his books are unmistakeably English - typical English blokes are always the key characters, and this is something Gayle really excels at, I've always thought.
This story takes in about a year in the lives of six main characters - three couples - with a focus on six parties throughout the year. It's really looking at relationships and friendships and what happens when they go wrong.
There are several different characters that narrate sections of the book - and not just the six main characters. The main narrator of the book is Melissa, and her story is the main focus.
This book is very easy to read and is completely undemanding. It also mentions lots of streets and venues in and around Manchester which gives a really good sense of place - and is also enjoyable if you know the city at all. But overall I wasn't that taken with this novel. There are so many different narrators that no one or two characters stand out and you don't get a chance to really get inside their heads. Also, none of the different narrators seems to have a distinctive personality or style of narrating - you always feel like you're reading the author's words rather than a different character's. The different threads within the novel are also a bit flat and underdeveloped - nothing very exciting happens and all the characters are very one-dimensional.
Some of the dialogue in the book also made me cringe and there were some sections that were just badly written. For example, at one point, Melissa says to Paul: "So what does she want from you?" Paul replies "I really don't know." Then ten lines down the page Melissa says to Paul: "So what does she want from you?" I know I'm being a bit picky, but there were a few bits of the book that were like this and it just felt a little sloppy.
This felt to me like it was an interesting idea - different narrators, different parties - that never really took off. It feels like the author wrote this in ten minutes! If you want a really quick holiday read then this may be what you're after but for me neither the story or the characters really held my interest.
This is my first book review so I do hope I'm along the right lines - and I welcome any feedback! Thanks for reading.
I have always been a fan of Mike Gayle's books. He seems to have a way of writing that is just so easy to get into and immediately make you feel as if you know the characters personally. I have all his books and this one is the one I have not long bought and finished reading.
Mike Gayle is one of the very few male authors I like out there. He is a British writer who was born in Birmingham but, has also lived in London and Manchester (my home town!). What I think gives him the edge to his writing is that personally I feel even though he is a male writer a lot of his books are geared towards the female audience and it seems his background of jobs would explain why females tend to enjoy his books so much as he has worked on various female orientated magazines! He has also worked on the other side though and was once an agony uncle for FHM magazine too.
The plot of this book:
I don't want to give too much away of course but, the general theme of this book is all about life in general and friends, people and what we do when life throws things at us and what we do in certain situations. The main focus is on one particular group of friends who all have different issues to contend with. The story is told over the space of a year with various flashbacks to other times thrown in so we can really feel like we know the characters.
My personal opinions:
I like the style of book - as I mentioned Gayle has a way of writing that grips you straight in and on all of his books I start reading and literally do not want to stop. What I particularly like about his book though is how he has told it from each persons point of view. It is not done necessarily by each chapter being told from a different point but, where ever he feels fits in best with the story. I like this about it as it means you read what each person is thinking and therefore feel even more involved with the characters as you know exactly what is going through their minds. The setting of the book is also in Manchester as of course the author having lived there can really make the setting work. Personally this for me was a nice touch as sometimes hearing a place dropped in that I knew of made it seem that little bit more interesting!
I picked my book up in Waterstones as part of a 3 for 2 deal but, I am sure you can find it on the internet somewhere and expect to pay around the £3.50 to £6 mark.
I highly recommend this book - it is very easy to read and quite easy to relate to as well. We all have friends who are doing different things in life and reading this book could be anyone's group of friends - in a way we all know a person like at least one of the characters in the book and that is what makes it work so well. The book doesn't require a lot of thinking to enjoy and would make an ideal holiday read.
I am a big fan of the author Mike Gayle and have loved everything that I have read by him. Therefore I was really looking forward to reading The Life and Soul of the Party and I was not disappointed in the least. This is a really great book!
There are many different reasons for throwing a party - New Year, birthdays, anniversaries, house warmings, people leaving and even funerals - and through the course of a year the characters in this excellent book by Mike Gayle experience all of these. In fact, the book is split into six parts each focusing on a different party.
The main characters in this book are a group of thirty somethings who have a long shared history. Chris and Vicky are a couple; as are Cooper and Laura. Melissa used to be with Paul but they each have new partners now who sometimes feel a bit like outsiders when the group of friends are together. This book charts a year in their lives, full of highs and lows, and by the end, all their lives have changed considerably and their friendship truly tested.
From the very first page I was completely hooked. The book is very easy to read because of Mike Gayle's very relaxed style. Also the characters seem so real and likeable - I almost felt as if I was reading about a group of my own very good friends. Because I felt like this I started to care what happened to them and found myself rooting for things to turn out well.
I loved the way that the story centred around the six different parties. Each one had a different focus and various things had occurred in the meantime which made it very interesting to see how the characters have moved on. Emotions and expectations varied greatly at each event depending on the state of the different relationships and this was fascinating.
Also, each party was divided up by the different characters each telling their own small part of the story. As it was all written in the first person this could have been confusing, but I did not find it so at all. This is because each character is different with their own viewpoint and Mike Gayle very cleverly changes his style depending on who is telling the story. I was also very convinced by all the characters and he is very adept at narrating from either the male or female point of view.
Mike Gayle tells such a good story in all of his novels and this one is no exception. Although, I would probably describe it as a light easy read, it does tug at your emotions and I have to confess that there were one or two moments when I was close to tears as I was reading. It's an absorbing read from start to finish and when I reached the last page I had that slightly disappointed feeling that it was all over. To me, that is definitely the sign of a good read!
The paperback version of this book is currently available on Amazon for £4.40.
A similar version of this review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk