“ Print Length: 354 pages / Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton / Published: 31 Jan 2013 „
Harry Spencer is a thirty-two year old History teacher who's being hounded by his wife, Emily, and all of their grown-up parent friends to have a child. Unfortunately Harry doesn't feel ready for that life changing event yet and still yearns to go back to his younger days. Even more unfortunately is that Harry doesn't have much choice in that as Emily soon declares she is in fact pregnant. When an ex-girlfriend pops up again though Harry has to decide, does he want to be a decent husband and father or would he rather relive those younger days with a girlfriend from the past?
This Thirty-Something Life is written in the form of a diary where we experience Harry's life for just under a year with him. We learn some of his past, his fears and hopes for the future and, more importantly, how he's going to sort his life out right here in the present. Each diary extract is fairly short, a couple of pages at the most, making it easy to be half way through the book before you've even realised. Having said that though, I don't think the diary format worked very well for this story.
The only character we really get to know is Harry. I admit Rance has done a wonderful job at making Harry an 'everyday bloke', his personality is a very realistic one and aspects of his life are entirely relatable and some of his thoughts and opinions thoroughly agreeable. But we meet other characters regularly such as his wife, ex-girlfriend, Granddad, parents and close friends none of these characters, however, ever really come to life despite how much they pop up in the diary entries. I really struggled to like or emphasis with any other characters. His wife Emily comes across as an annoyingly serious drama queen and constantly seems to be in a mood with Harry over the slightest thing whilst the role of the parents are very cliché. His father-in-law doesn't seem to like him very much, his Father refuses to talk about emotion and his Mother is a constant fuss pot. I just couldn't like or relate to any of these characters myself.
I also found the unravelling of events very predictable in places. There were times I could guess what was coming a few pages further in such detail I could have written the entry myself. The plot in general just isn't that wonderful to be honest. There's no real dramatic climax and the entire book seems to be just listening to Harry's fears of becoming a Father. Sex seemed to feature heavily. Every page is littered with Harry either discussing the sex he's had or moaning about the lack of it he's received. In places this did cause a little smile, sometimes even an out loud laugh, but after a while it did get a little boring and the joke started to wear thin.
There are still good points about this story though. In places it's quite heart-warming and I do think you grow quite fond of Harry and enjoy realising how much he's grown as a person towards the end of the book. There were plenty of funny parts which had me giggling and it was a fairly enjoyable light read. It just isn't really anything other than average though, not helped by the annoying grammatical errors which popped up from time to time.
In places it was very un-pc and there's plenty of swearing which won't appeal to everyone. If you're an easily offended person then probably best you give this one a miss. If you're looking for a slightly entertaining light read then by all means read this. It has its downfalls but is mostly enjoyable. If you're after something with more depth than one man and his struggle to empty to scrotum though, best to look elsewhere.
Published: Hodder & Stoughton, 2013
Price: £5.24 from Amazon, Kindle Edition £2.99