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June 09, 2003

Man And Wife - Tony Parsons

Midlife Angst

Harry Silver repeats his performance from Man and Boy. This review could easily stop there, because if you've read the first book, then this sequel will hold no surprises.

Harry is living with new wife Cyd, who is of course very beautiful, and her daughter Peggy. His son Pat, the most beautiful boy in the world, of course, is living with ex-wife Gina and her new beau Richard, and he does the normal weekend father stuff. He also has a good job as a TV producer. But is he happy, no. And then Gina takes their son to live in America. And then his mother gets breast cancer. And then his job starts to fall apart when his only client takes a bit too much cocaine. And then he suspects his wife of having an affair, and begins a mini platonic affair himself. Just what is it he wants from life; he seems to stumble from one disaster to another, wanting the perfect relationship, and then not being happy with it when he gets it. He idolises what he perceives his parent's marriage was, one long love affair with each other.

And then things start to come together again; he stops the affair before it goes too far, his son comes back from America, his mother looks like she is recovering well from her mastectomy. And the final topping on the cake, Cyd becomes pregnant, which will make them a totally blended family.

Harry appears to be a voyeur, looking at his life, but not being able to affect it. And as a reader, you feel that you are watching this with cotton wool in your ears. You feel detached, you know your emotions are being cleverly manipulated, and most of the time you easily resist, but occasionally Parsons manages to get through to you. The characters are one dimensional caricatures, and the situations manufactured for maximum effect. In fact, the whole thing screams "TV movie sequel", from the punch up in the posh restaurant, to the biker's wedding at a service station.

And the book has a fairly unconvincing ending. Harry really is a pretty unpleasant person, selfish and self absorbed, and you just know that this latest attempt at happiness will be spoilt when he next spots a young pretty girl that takes his fancy. Perhaps there will be a trilogy - "Man and Mistress" anybody?

AE 1

Posted by se71 at June 9, 2003 02:08 PM


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