This is a review of the 2002 book 'Wake Up' by Tim Pears. I picked my copy up from a book store for 99p and thought it looked like a good read.
Style of writing
This book is written in an autobiographical style, although it is a work of fiction too. The story focuses on John Sharp, a sensible man in his late 30s as he goes through life and he retells his past and how he became an expert on the growth, marketing and selling of potatoes. Oxford educated, John is the brains of his family business (with his brother) and dreams of perfecting and producing a potato-vaccine.
John's a bit weird though
The story is big on family life and John seems fairly straight laced and boring at times but he has a disturbing undercurrent which borders on sexual obsessions at times. There is definitely a side to John that I really don't like!
Detail on a small baby
Aside from his penchant for prostitutes and fat women (not that he goes into any futher detail on this), the book really describes what it's like to have a baby and there's no doubting John's dedication for his son and love for his wife Lily.
John's brother, Greg is a great honest character too. He makes their potato company thrive and loves working there. John's admiration for his younger sister Melody borders on the sinister too. He worships her and can't say no to her on any level.
I liked some bits of this book and other bits I hated. In between the chapters there is small lines of text, almost poetic about the diseases that can affect potatoes. At least they are on theme! I also found the in between chapters where John is describing random symptoms to his doctor, none of which make sense and almost like John is trying to shock the doctor. Unsurprisingly the doctor struggles to diagnose what's wrong with John and suggests he has some sort of allergy!!
In all honesty, I think some of the book was a bit base and raw for me. Like a potato uncooked, John reveals secrets far too deep and things I'd really rather not know, I don't think I'll write them here as it's a bit gross.
I wouldn't rush to read this book although I did like the fact that my hardback book had a ribbon sewn into it so a page marker, you really can't beat this quality for 99p. I was a little confused by the autobiographical style when I realised it was a work of fiction. Pears really does know his potatoes and I found myself agreeing with his musings on having a young baby that only someone who has gone through it can remember (surprising amount of detail on the women's experience of breastfeeding too although this just fuelled the darker side of John's sexual yearnings. I would go as far as to say this book, which could be picked up and read in innocence could actually offend some readers so is not to be read without warning.