Book Reviews : Novels, Husbands and the story of a lucky man named Jim

This week I’ve taken a break from reading business, social psychology or any other books related in fact to dive head first into two great works of fiction. One considered a classic and a novel from one of America’s most profilic writers…

Enjoy the reviews!

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Lucky Jim (9)

by Kingsley Amis

Lucky Jim is the story of James Dixon.

At the point we join Jim in his story he’s got a relatively new job in a university where his career is in a pretty precarious place. He’s also got money (or to be more accurate ‘no money’) worries due to his love of beer and spirits as well as a pretty complicated personal life.

“Lucky Jim” is set in the 1950’s as Jim starts his career in the history department of a university. Writing papers and teaching students (mainly about subjects which personally bore him to tears) are part of his ‘day job’ however everything he does vocationally seems to be about ensuring he has a job to return to in his 2nd year.

However there’s a problem. He doesn’t like his job very much, He doesn’t like his boss and he also got a bit of a major problem with both his bosses wife and son.

I really liked “Lucky Jim”. Part Satire, part farce but also managing to convey an interesting story of a man trying to do the right thing and suddenly finding that trying to do the right thing in the wrong place is a purely academic exercise (see what I did there!)

It’s also got some of the finest comedic writing I’ve read in a long time particularly when Jim Dixon is complying with polite 50’s cultural norms when often thinking much darker thoughts.

However the moment that I found myself laugh out loud was when ‘Lucky Jim’ wakes up with a hangover with a particularly heavy night on the booze and Amis describes first how he feels and then how Jim comes to the slow realisation of what’s happened in his inebriated state and what he tries to do to cover it up!

It also paints an interesting picture of life over half a century ago. A life where many were recovering from their wartime experiences and settling into ‘normal’ life again. A life where what was ‘expected’ socially meant a potentially more polite society but also one where repressed feelings led to unhappiness.

I’m glad I picked up “Lucky Jim”…

It’s a book which has provided me with a lot of smiles, a couple of chuckles and even the odd belly laugh and also gave me a window on a life I knew very little about.

So, if you’ve in need of a book which is articulate, intelligent and in parts highly amusing “Lucky Jim” might be a book you might want to pick up…

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The Husband (10) 

by Dean Koontz

There are some authors who stand as giants in the “world of books” are both being commercially successful and incredibly prolific…

Barbara Cartland and Enid Blyton are both authors in different fields who are known to both be as best selling and hard working.

In the world of Children’s literature, JK Rowling and Dr Suess are without a doubt among the most popular.

and

There are many more Tolstoy, Daniel Steelel, Sidney Sheldo, Robert Ludlum and James Patterson among them

However in the world of suspense thrillers with a supernatural twist there are two authors who stand head and shoulders above all others.

One of them is Stephen King. One is Dean Koontz.

Interesting Steven King is probably the more ‘famous’ with many of his books being turned into films not only supernatural thrillers Cujo, Christine and the brilliant Green Mile but also films like “The Running Man”, “Stand by me” and “The Shawshank Redemption” (the first being written under a pen name with the other two being based on Novella’s written by King).

However Dean Koontz is no less prolific.

Whilst he’s in a position where less of his books have been made into movies and TV shows (although he’s absolutely no slouch when it comes to other media adaptations) he’s written and sold more books than his esteemed supernatural thriller writer.

Since my late teens / early twenties I’ve been a fan of the writings of both esteemed authors.

However, with the probable exception of “the green mile” books, I’ve always had a slight preference for Dean Koontz.

The stories are always fast paced, well described and often skillfully combines fantasy with description of people, places and experiences which feel ‘real’…

…and the Husband is no exception.

The Husband is the story of Mitch, a gardener and small business owner. One day Mitch receives a call. A call which changes his life and puts his family under threat…

The call starts an unrelenting chain of events as Mitch fights to save his wife. These events not only lead him to change his perspective on his life but also means he needs to face a disturbing history he’s ignored for so long.

I’d never attempt to suggest that “The Husband” is a classic. It often feels to formulaic and whilst a couple of the twists are unexpected there’s a few you can see coming from miles away.

However for a fast paced, action packed, well written novel (the sort of books Koontz writes so well) it hits the nail firmly on the head.

So, until next time where we’ll be looking at two non fiction books….happy reading!

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