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Such a funny book and extremely easy to read. Whilst the format may not appeal to everyone (it's presented as emails) the idea behind it will be all to familiar with anyone who works where email is a means of communication. Have you sent the wrong email to the wrong person? Have you sent it before checking that what you've said is what you really wanted to say? Then if you have nodded your head twice then this book is for you. If you didn't nod and instead shrugged then why not give it a go still - you just might like it!
The book flies along and before you know you are hooked in Martin's world, a world where they very rarely meet for real actually - including emailing downstairs for something (I myself have done that via text lol!). Unless you've not been touched by the world of email then give it a go. Basically you have Martin - our main character - and his friends, family and colleague. The book is a series of emails backwards and forwards between them mainly from Martin's place of work. Happy reading and welcome to the working week ...
"Welcome to the Working Week" is not the sort of book that I'd usually select in the library; in fact it's quite far from it. That's because it's written by a man, now I've nothing against them at all but when I've looked back at the books I've reviewed on here the majority have been by women. It also had a slightly bizarre sounding blurb that sums the book up as a "hilarious look at life and love, all seen through that unforgiving crucible of modern life, the email account."
The author is a guy I'd never actually heard of before picking up this book in my local library. Paul Vlitos was born in Oxford in the 1970s and after studying English Language spent many years lecturing in Japan. More recently he's become an author and now lives in Edinburgh. His first novel was "Welcome to the Working Week" which came out back in August 2007 and he has just released a new novel entitled "Every Day is Like Sunday" earlier in September 2008.
The first thing I should mention about the novel is that it is not written as most novels are but instead features a selection of emails both from and to the main character Martin Sargent. Martin is a young guy working in London, his exact age and occupation are never revealed so I can only assume he is either late twenties or early thirties. As for his job it seems to involve a lot of time spent on his computer and doesn't seem the most tasking position either.
The novel follows Martin through a time in his life, again the time period is never actually hinted at although it is at least several months if not close to a full year. From these emails we gain an insight into his girlfriend leaving him, his attempts to find a new girlfriend, his attempts to find a new flatmate and various other events in his life. We also encounter his ex girlfriend, his family and several of his friends through various correspondences in the form of emails.
The only word I can think of that accurately describes this novel is "odd" and I'm not quite sure where to start really. The whole format of the book is peculiar, the fact we never actually learn the age or the occupation of the main character is strange in my view, and the fact that I had no real concept of the time period in which the book was meant to be set. On the other hand it is a very entertaining read and one that I did actually quite enjoy. It certainly isn't my usual type of book and I selected it with the "I'll give it a go" type of attitude.
The book is designed as a series of emails which range from a couple of words to several pages long. As such you really gain an insight into the characters, as the emails are quite personal as they are written in the first person. However on the other hand this method does have its downfalls, the emails focus on certain events that are particularly entertaining or relevant so you never really gain an insight into the day to day lives or the character's lives beyond what they choose to write in the various emails. This was a little strange really as although I felt I gained an insight into the characters, I never really felt I gained much of an insight and there were certainly things I'd like to have known more about which perhaps would have been possible if it was more of a continuous story.
The main character is a guy called Martin whose name and occupation are never revealed so the reader is left to guess. The emails he sends and receives concern a number of key characters including Lucy (his younger sister), Sally (his ex girlfriend), Laura (a colleague and also someone he flirts with), Barney (a friend from school who is now a DJ), Ross (his new flatmate), Ella (a friend), Emily and Chris (his friends who are married during the course of the book) and his parents also. It's arguably Martin, Lucy and Sally that we gain the greatest insight into due to them being responsible for the majority of the emails in the novel. As such there is quite a number of characters contained in the novel, yet very few are focused on or developed greatly apart from the aforementioned three.
The book is written in a very humorous way and I did find myself giggling out loud on more than a couple of occasions. Sally left Martin for David (a short ginger theatre producer) and this is one of the most common reasons for humour in the novel. Martin's emails to Sally are always quite funny, especially as his underlying reason throughout is attempting to get her to dump David. His emails to his sister are another great cause of humour as it's perhaps only her that he is one hundred percent honest with and generally recounts the most about his life to her as well, maybe as she's not really a constant feature in it due to her being at University quite far away.
The title comes from the fact that all his emails are sent from his work email address, the majority are actually sent within work time as well apart from a few that are sent at the weekend. Again this is another cause for humour due to Martin Sergent (Head of IT) chasing him about these emails and his abuse of the system. He's very often mistaken for Martin Sergent due to sharing the same name although their surname is spelt differently - in fact the book opens with him receiving abusive emails that were actually meant for the other Martin Sergent.
The book is very relevant to the time in which we are living now which was one of its huge downfalls, there were so many references to current events and occurrences - one of the only ones I was aware of was the London bombings. It's got what I'd refer to as quite a narrow life as if someone were to come to read this in ten years time a lot of what it talks about wouldn't mean a thing to them, not only the current events but bands and film stars too. This is something that often ruins books as although it makes them relevant at the moment, it will make them quite dated in several years time. Some of the suggestions were in fact alien to me, some were quite political and went straight over my head which was a shame as I didn't really grasp the full humour contained within them.
The book is nearly 350 pages in total but surprisingly I managed to finish it quite quickly. This was largely due to the fact that some emails were only a few words long and some email exchanges consisted of about ten emails each containing about five words which were spread over about three pages! Due to the somewhat jumpy nature it was quite easy to read a couple of pages and then put the book down for a few days without constantly wondering what was going to happen next. I didn't really develop any sense of urgency to finish this book either, and once or twice I did think about leaving it halfway through as I didn't really want to find out the ending particularly.
The ending was slightly disappointing as nothing really got resolved. During the entire course of the book the only thing that actually altered greatly was the fact that Martin got a new roommate and then towards the end of the book he left. Apart from that there was very little development in general in his life and I did get the feeling this book could have gone on forever really. It did have a slight cliff hanger at the ending about whether or not he got together with his friend Ella, and I suppose this is some sort of attempt to get you to buy the author's second book... but it wasn't really tempting enough!
So would I recommend this book? Well if you want some light reading that will provide you with a few giggles than yes, but if you're looking for a plot you can really get stuck into then sadly this won't provide that in the slightest. It was easy to read and fairly enjoyable, if I see his second book in the library I'll probably select it if there's nothing better but I certainly won't be rushing out to buy it.
Thanks for reading.