I have always been a fan of Mike Gayle's novels, so when on a web site I realised I had enough points to get this novel free I jumped at the chance. The only problem was it took nearly four weeks to arrive and I had nearly given up every receiving it. And because it was a gift I had no idea what the book would be like I simply selected it on this author reputation.
==About the author:==
Mike Gayle is a British author who has been writing novels since 1998. I would describe his books as 'bloke lits' if there is such a thing! As the majority of his characters are male; it deals with issues men face and is written from the male perspective. Although having said that they are often funny and provide a good and modern insight into relationships and life in general that apply to both sexes. He has written 11 very popular books with this one first being published in 2007.
==Synopsis of the book:==
Charlie is in the dumps, this thirty-five year old has recently split up from his girlfriend of ten years Sarah and he feels empty without her. Luckily for him his best friend Andy has a plan to cheer him up and bring him out of himself. His plan is a boy's holiday, which Charlie only agrees to if their other friend from University Tom comes as well. As Charlie thinks he is unlikely to agree to it as he is married with a young family. However to his surprise he agrees and Andy arranges a last minute deal for a weeks break for the boys.
The only thing is Andy won't tell his trusting friends exactly where they are going so they can't pull out. He does eventually reveal the place he has selected is Malia, a place they went too over ten years before where Charlie first met Sarah. They only difference now is they are all a decade older and this place is a party scene for the 18-30 age group. And so they must pretend to be a few years younger. Will this be the holiday of a lifetime or a holiday from hell? Charlie has his reservations and the born again Christian friend Tom also seems worried at the prospect, the only one confident is the arranger Andy.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I thought this was a good piece of fiction and I enjoyed reading it. However it did not grab me like some of Mike Gayle's previous books. For me this was certainly a book that would appeal more to the male population. But having said that it was written in such a way that the issues raised within it could apply just as well to women and therefore they would have no problem relating to it and the feeling/emotions brought up in it.
Being an experienced reader of this author's books, I can see a real quality in his writing. I think this quality is in producing humour from everyday situations. Certainly in this story his observations often had me either smiling or chuckling away as I found I was able to appreciate the situation being explained and relating to what was happening within the story to the characters.
When the book finally arrived I knew I must read it as soon as I could so I re-arranged my plans for the weekend to allow me a good stab at reading it. My immediate impression from the cover was impressive. Firstly I liked the title as I always associate holidays with wish you were here (showing my age here! Where are you Judith Charmers?) This was improved further by the interesting holiday picture of four people three male and one female with their backs to the camera walking into the sea.
So I spun the book over to read the summary of the story. This for me was quite disappointing in its length and depth, but more than made up for it was the concepts it shared with the reader. It certainly got me interested in the book and I liked the idea of these big kids going back and trying an 18-30 holiday. As I think going back to our past often brings happy feelings of events we have enjoyed. I was impressed by the three quotes or compliments about this book because it was precisely that, written after reading this book not raise about the author's work in general.
As soon as I started reading the story I was greeted by a familiar style of writing that always impresses me with its honesty but not only that the clever insight the author displays into life of the modern male. With incredibly short chapter and with easy to read this relaxed style of writing of the book and I found I sailed through it.
For me the build up and the first few days of the holiday was my favourite part so basically the first half of the story. I found this to be the wittiest part of the book and I found I could relate and understand the characters best during this. In the later part of the story the author for me anyway tended to deal with more serious concepts and I felt at certain times the characters acted out of character and that meant I didn't know them like I thought I did. The more serious ideas he introduced seemed to dampen down the humour and I found myself thinking a little more about what was happening and what I was reading about.
And while there was never any doubt I would complete reading this story, I did feel the concluding chapters where a little predictable and disappointing. Which was in sharp contrast to what had preceded it as that was full of surprises and I never had any idea what would happen next.
Though I must admit the book did really catch me out. When I start a book I like to know how many pages it has in the case it was 409. I find knowing this helps me plan when I will have completed it by. However I was in for a surprise as it is only 364 pages long!! The next 40 or so pages deals with the author's next novel and gives you a real flavour about it. A clever ploy in my view to encourage the reader to purchase that as well, I was just surprised so much of it was included, as previously when other writers do this it will be no more than a page or two.
Charlie was the novels leading character and the book was written basically from his viewpoint. He was a lovely character to follow as I found it very easy to like and relate to him, given his situation and his need for a break from the mundane day-to-day life. He had many attributes that I admired although as the story developed I was surprised at some of the things he did. Which was a shock in some respects but it kept me on my toes as I realised given desperate and stressful situations we can all act differently to how we would otherwise.
Charlie was ably supported by both Tom and Andy, whose personalities where so different it was good to have the contrasts in ideas, behaviour and ideology. What I found rewarding about all the characters within the story was they were all going through their own mid-life crisis, and this holiday in many ways was a watershed for them. The story also introduced a lady into the mix but I felt there was not enough insight into her to do justice to her feelings and emotions.
For me this was one of the weakest novels from a talented writer, who really has good insight into life for the 30 something male. I felt he was lost somewhere between the excellent humour and the more serious concepts he introduced as the story developed.
I found this a well written and cleverly thought out story. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys humorous read, but at the same time likes life changing decisions within a group of friends who have written key points in their lives. I could image this story being popular on holidays as after all it is about one but it is the type of book you can dip into a read a little or a lot as you fancy.
Price £1.99 New at Amazon
Year of Publication: 2007
About the author: www.mikegayle.co.uk
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPT DANIELS November 2011.
Review of Wish You Were Here, a novel by Mike Gayle
I am reviewing the paperback version of the novel, 410 pages, ISBN 0340825421, published by Hodder Books, cover price £6.99. The genre of the novel is Popular Fiction/Humour.
The Plot and Characters
The plot of the novel is a simple one, three men go on holiday and have to face up to their lives and problems. It has a sort of 'chick-lit' feel to it, but, (if this makes sense!) from a man's point of view. 'Lad-Lit' would sum the genre up rather nicely!
Charlie Mansell is a thirty-five year old man in a crisis. His girl friend of 10 years has told him that she doesn't love him any more and has packed her bags and left. Charlie is devastated and facing up to his new situation is proving difficult, especially as he is convinced that Sarah is having an affair with one of her work colleagues, Oliver.
Andy is also thirty-five, he is with a long term partner, Lisa. Although he plans to marry her, one day soon, he is still a bit of a 'lad' and likes to think he can still 'pull' the girls. Andy sails through life, bouncing from crisis to crisis, most of which are of his own making.
Tom is the same age as the others, he is married to Anne, they have two children and Tom is a born again Christian. Tom is quieter than his friends, a reliable, sensible type of person.
The three men have been friends since their college days and although Tom has now moved to the Midlands while Andy and Charlie are based in the Brighton/Hove district, they are still good friends. At least, Charlie is good friends with them both, while Tom and Andy have a somewhat strained friendship, due to Andy's rather adolescent attitude, his drinking and partying lifestyle and his constant sarcasm regarding Tom's religious beliefs.
Andy decides that Charlie needs a lads only holiday to cheer him up and persuades his friends to join him on a mystery bargain break. It is only at the airport that he reveals the trio are off to Malia in Crete, staying at the same resort that they holidayed in some 10 years earlier on a Club 18-30 holiday. It was in fact on this previous holiday, that Charlie met Sarah, his now ex-girlfriend.
Charlie is not best pleased and fears that Andy has arranged the holiday for his own purposes and intends to have a final fling before settling down with Lisa. Lisa also feels this is Andy's intention and burdens Charlie with the task of keeping an eye on Andy.
On the first night in Malia, the trio seem to be the oldest holiday makers in the resort and then Charlie's worst fears come to fruition when Andy disappears with an eighteen year old clubber called Nina. Andy doesn't return until the following day and then spends virtually the rest of the holiday in Nina's company. Charlie feels even more uncomfortable when Lisa keeps phoning and sending him text messages to ask if Andy is being faithful. Tom is totally bemused by the whole thing and tries to get on with his own holiday, even though he too is nursing a problem which he has not confided in anyone else.
The plot explores the individual situation of each man in a humorous fashion. The author has really got inside his characters and they are likeable, believable and very well drawn. The outcome is not one I was expecting, always a bonus in my view!
About the Author
Mike Gayle was born in Birmingham in 1970. He is a freelance journalist who has contributed to a variety of magazines including FHM , Cosmopolitan and Sunday Times magazine ' Style'.
He was a features editor and later an agony uncle for Just Seventeen and Bliss magazines before he had his first novel (My Legendary Girlfriend) published.
More information about Mike and a full bibliography can be found on his website www.mikegayle.co.uk
Cost and Availability
My copy has the cover price of £6.99. The book is available from book sellers both on and off line. A quick web search today brought up the following prices:-
www.amazon.co.uk £1.99 new or from 0.01p used
www.ebay.co.uk from 0.99p
My Thoughts and Conclusion
Wish You Were Here is an amusing look at the lives of thirty something men. I found the book highly addictive and read it over the course of an evening. The humour is not of the side splitting variety, more subtle and thoughtful. Mike Gayle has produced a set of characters with real life problems and whilst they are all very different people, they are totally believable.
The plot meanders gently through the week long holiday in Malia and the reader is drawn into the should he tell or not tell quandary that Charlie finds himself facing.
I enjoyed the novel very much, I have read other books by the author and consider Wish You Were Here to be an excellent example of Mr Gayle's style of writing.
A good read and one I would recommend to others.
If I had to criticise the novel, it would have to be the minor irritation of finding the final 40 odd pages of the book are a preview of another Mike Gayle novel. I do not have an issue with publishers doing this, however I do find it a little annoying to find several chapters of another book tacked on to one I've just finished. That is a personal opinion and has little relevance of course, to the novel I've reviewed!
Thank you for taking the time to read my review.
©brittle1906 December 2010
N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.
Mike Gayle is a brilliant author, i love all his books and recommend this one to everyone. Many books like this are written by women so its great to get a mans perspective on things! His books are easy reading however I have to admit corny as it sounds I could not put it down. This is a great read to take on holiday this summer. Honestly its not a complex book that's going to make you think however if that's what you want then these are not the sorts of books I'd expect you to pick up. In short the main character has broken up with his girlfriend and goes on holiday with his mates for a lads holiday. Many of us have been through similar experiences and can relate to this book. It humorous, uplifting and generally an easy read that makes you forget the world and relax. Enjoy I certainly did!!
Ever since I read 'His 'n' Hers' I have been a big fan of the writer Mike Gayle. The books he writes are what I think is called 'lad lit' which is just like chick lit really except that it is written by a bloke about blokes doing 'blokey' things! All of Mike Gayle's books are written in this way, including the latest one I have read - Wish You Were Here.
The story is told by Charlie who is thirty five and single having recently separated from his long term girlfriend. His mate Andy has the idea that a holiday is just what Charlie needs to cheer him up. However, unbeknownst to Charlie he books an 18- 30 holiday in the Crete resort of Malia. Now both Charlie and Andy along with their other friend Tom (who has worries of his own) are way over the upper age limit and do tend to stick out like sore thumbs! Andy is determined that they will all have a good time even if that does mean chasing every beautiful woman in sight and cheating on his fiancé Lisa.
The holiday is certainly not as relaxing as Charlie would have hoped for especially as Lisa has asked him to keep Andy on the straight and narrow which seems to be an impossible task. The three friends can't really agree about what they want out of a holiday either and that causes added tension between the three. Even the hint of romance for Charlie does not seem that promising! Things don't get any easier when Lisa unexpectedly flies out to join them and by the end of the week it is questionable that their friendships will remain intact. You will of course have to read the book to find out whether it does though because I'm not going to tell you and spoil such a great read.
This book, like all of Mike Gayle's others, is so immensely readable. From the moment that you pick it up and start reading you don't want to put it down, and it feels like an old friend is chatting to you (and at times baring his soul!) I loved the way that the story was written in the first person from Charlie's point of view as you really felt that you got to know him. You experienced all his highs and lows with him and you particularly feel for him when he experiences a couple of those 'Oh God! What have I done moments?' Charlie is a great likeable character as is Tom and even Andy for all his faults. I guess that he might well be described as a loveable rogue!
The style of the book is very easygoing and relaxed. The book is broken up in to all the days of the holiday. I liked this because it made it easy to read in manageable chunks. Lots of different things happen on this holiday and a lot of it is very funny although there are some quite poignant moments too especially when Tom shares what is worrying him with Charlie. There was even one moment when unexpectedly I found tears welling up in my eyes! (Typically I was reading my book on the train at the time which always seems to be the case when a book moves me - I never seem to be able to cry in private!).
It was also very enjoyable to be a little voyeuristic and experience the type of holiday that once I might have enjoyed but now you couldn't pay me to go anywhere near a resort like Malia. Mike Gayle observes all the antics so well and relays it all with a wry sense of humour!
I only had one disappointment with this book and it came at the end. I always like to see how many pages are in the book and had noted that there were just over 400 - just a good length for me! I was happily reading the book on the train thinking that it would just about see me through my journey from Waterloo to Wokingham when all of a sudden on page 364 it all came to an abrupt end! Almost forty pages at the end were the start of Mike Gayle's next book and I have to say that at that moment in time I did feel a bit cheated - especially as this was a book that I could have just kept reading I was enjoying it so much!
Anyway, apart from that one gripe, this book is absolutely brilliant and I do recommend it along with all the other Mike Gayle books I have read. It is currently available at Amazon for £5.49.