Review: The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

Adam Sharp.jpgHow does Graeme Simsion follow-up his dual smash-hits of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect?  By penning a novel that is just as funny and poignant, but with a tumultuous moral core. Unlike the Rosie novels –  which I always pegged as romantic-comedies, or as ‘dramedy’ to enquiring readers – The Best of Adam Sharp is far more profound. There’s a lot more for the reader to marinate over. There is greater thematic depth. And it will resonate long after you’ve closed the book.

The Best of Adam Sharp introduces our protagonist – the titular Adam Sharp – as an almost-fifty IT contractor, whose life has reached that gliding point when there are few surprises left. It’s not a bad life – he lives comfortably, has a loyal partner at home, and has a few close friends – but it’s not what it could have been. Even so, it’s not like he is pining for something different; he’s made his bed and he is sleeping in it contentedly. Until he gets an email from his great lost love, Angelina Brown…

Two decades ago, on the other side of the world in Australia, Adam’s part-time piano playing introduced him to the aspiring actress and the two engaged in an unlikely love affair. It was never meant to be a long-term thing – their lifestyles prohibited a lifetime together – but despite the odds, they fell in love. Adam could’ve made a life with her – should’ve, he later things – but did not. They went their separate ways, out of touch, until now, when their extended email communique leads to Adam reuniting with Angelina in the flesh . . . alongside her husband.

The Best of Adam Sharp is about lost love and second chances. My feelings towards Adam varied during my reading; initially I was rooting for the guy, fist-bumping the air thinking, “Yeah, go get the girl, be with the person you’re meant to be with!” Then, later, my tune changed; I realised that Adam reforming his relationship with Angelina would break up a family, and those consequences seemed too grand for the sake of one man’s happiness. As I learned more of Angelina’s relationship with her husband, I reflected and decided, “No, Adam is definitely the right man for her, consequences be damned!” Only for my opinion to change twenty pages later…

This is a novel that will make you ponder the choices you’ve made. It will make you nostalgic, and reflect on where your life might be if you’d stayed with a former girlfriend; stayed in your hometown; moved to a big city; taken that job you turned down. And then it will force you to question how far you’d go for a second chance? Would you sacrifice all you have for that could be? And just because you can do something – should you?

The Life of Adam Sharp isn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as the Rosie novels, but humour still shines through, and plenty of moments had me guffawing. In fact, I feel like the comedy is more potent here because it’s sprinkled, rather than soaked through the text. Music plays a vital role in the narrative too, and it’s mainstream enough – The Beatles, Dylan, The Kinks – to ensure just about every reader will appreciate their references. Even when I couldn’t imagine the tune of a referenced song, I understood the subtext.

Graeme Simsion has done it again; authored a poignant, funny novel, that can stand proudly beside the Rosie novels, if not entirely outshine them. 

ISBN: 9781925355376
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: The Text Publishing Company
Publisher: Text Publishing Co
Publish Date: 19-Sep-2016
Country of Publication: Australia

 

Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Rosie ProjectTHE ROSIE PROJECT is whimsical and charming in all the best ways. It is a celebration of life and love, and the differences that define us, but are ultimately meaningless when we meet the one. Graeme Simsion’s debut is a romantic comedy that stringently adheres to the conceits of the genre rather than attempt to transcend them. But it’s executed to perfection, rendering all those tropes into a seamless, engaging narrative.

Don Tillman’s personality and eccentricities are indicative of Autism / Aspergers / OCD. Every facet of his life is regimented; to the extent he creates a questionnaire – titled “The Wife Project” for prospective partners to complete in order for him to gauge compatibility. I appreciated Simsion’s decision not to explicitly label Don as a sufferer of a particular condition – there’s no need for him to. Don as socially awkward, self-aware person, and that’s not all the matters. He’s a loveable character – infuriating at times, but relatable.

When Rosie enters Don’s life he immediate registers her as an unsuitable partner. She’s his antithesis; tardy, a smoker, and her mathematical skills aren’t of the standard Don requires. But you just need to see the title of the book to know how the story is going to play out. There are a few twists along the way, thanks to the subplot involving the search for Rosie’s father, but THE ROSIE PROJECT is a novel you predict the ending of before you begin, and enjoy because of the journey towards it.

A light-hearted and feel-good novel that’s surely destined for Hollywood, I expected THE ROSIE PROJECT to be an easy read; a palette cleanser between novels of greater substance. I did it a disservice. It’s got plenty of substance, a lot of laughs, and even more heart.