This book is the last in the trilogy which started with Man and Boy and continued with Man and Wife. When I read Man and Wife, I had no idea that it was part of a bigger story so I can safely say that I sort of started in the middle. The books however, can be read independently.
In this new chapter of Harry Silver’s life, Parsons delves deeper into the problems and challenges of a mixed family. Now married for the second time, to Cyd, who has a daughter, Peggy, from a previous marriage, himself the father of a teenage boy named Pat, from his first marriage, Harry finds himself yet again caught in the turmoil of everyday life. A new daughter, Joni, born into the mixed family, completes the picture.
Conflicts arise from every aspect of his life: the loss of his job, his son becoming a teenager, the return of his first wife, Gina, who decides she wants to play an active role in Pat’s life after years of being away, the arrival on his doorstep of one of his father’s comrades from the war, all this is enough to bring complications, misunderstanding and resentment but also new lessons in love, compassion and trust. There is a palpable undercurrent of anger which can be felt throughout the book, a feeling which seems hard to control for Harry.
The reason why I liked all of Tony Parsons’ books I’ve read so far is because he succeeds in telling this universal story of love and heartbreak, mistakes and forgiveness and the power to start all over again in such a compelling way. The characters feel real, the situations even more so, and even though sometimes I wanted to shake Harry and Cyd for almost giving up, in the end I could not help but like them.
There are also a few words from the author at the back of the book – about how his personal experiences have played an important role in the writing of the trilogy, about life, mistakes and the power to turn it all into a story that does not belong to one man only but to all of us.
*Read in September 2011