Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Guest Book Review: Jon Rance - This Thirtyomething Life

Reviewed by Danielle Pullen

Being a thirtysomething man isn't easy (especially when you still yearn to be a twentysomething man). Meet Harry Spencer. History teacher, lover of snack food and terrified of growing up. However, when his wife Emily drops the P-Bomb, Harry is suddenly thrust into the role of expectant father.

When he's tempted by the greener grass of an ex-girlfriend past, Harry has to make the most important decision of his life. Does he have what it takes to become a man, or will he succumb to the lure of adolescent fantasy?

This is a love story about what happens after we've fallen in love, when we've swapped frolicking in the bed for cigarettes in the shed and Match of the Day for Mothercare. Brutally honest, laugh-out-loud funny and heart-warming, this is a diary about one man's bumbling journey on the road to adulthood.

This Thirtysomething Life follows the life of Harry Spencer, a thirty-something History teacher, via his diary entries over a nine month period. The time span involved is critical as it charts his feelings and life-events over the course of his wife’s pregnancy and the birth of his first child.

The diary entries bring to life a range of stereotypical characters. Notably Harry himself, the lad who still likes nights out and just isn’t quite ready for commitment. But also, Emily (the nagging wife), Harry’s father (uncommunicative) and Harry’s mother (dying to be a grandmother). There’s also a cast of minor characters, Jamie (saucy ex-girlfriend), two couples (one couple who are child centred, the other who are child-phobic). So far so predictable.

In terms of plot, it is difficult not to give away too much. Suffice to say, you could probably guess.

HINT: All’s well that ends well.

What Rance is aiming for with his first novel is a corner of the market-place currently reserved for
Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons. Unfortunately, however, this novel has neither the depth, humour
nor three-dimensional characters needed to sit well with the afore-mentioned writers. Having said
that, however, I am clearly not in the recommended demographic (I’m the wrong gender for a start!) and it would be interesting to hear a male reader’s take on this text. Perhaps I should lend it to my husband…

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