Book Review: Parting Lines by Stuart Allen

 photo Parting Lines by Stuart Allen.jpg Title: Parting Lines
By: Stuart Allen
Categories / Themes: Life changes, midlife crisis, new experiences.
Read: 24th October, 2014 – 22nd November, 2014
Rating: 5 / 5
Obtained: Goodreads
Crossposted Review to: Goodreads, Amazon

Parting Lines by Stuart Allen is a book about a man finding his true self after his life turns out horribly wrong. It’s essentially a mid-life crisis. Tim Hoskings, the main character, has had the same life for a couple of decades. He has a wife, a normal job and a stable life. That is, until he decides to have an affair. Soon after, he goes into work and assaults a man. Now he has no home, because his wife has kicked him out. Now he has no job, because he has been fired for the assault. He lives on a yacht and hopes that he can fix what he has done to other people. This begins by trying to apologise to Derek, the man he had assaulted. It turns out that this Derek and his friend Cassandra can actually help Tim on a journey of rediscovery, though not everything goes to plan. Well… There wasn’t really any plan in the first place, I guess.

I think that the plot was quite intriguing. There were a lot of ups, downs and in-betweens in the book. Though many of the events that happened seemed miserable, the way the book was written didn’t make it feel unhappy. This isn’t a bad thing. I liked that way that Tim had a lot of terrible stuff going on his life, but he kept on going and doing his best to try and fix the stuff he had done, meanwhile trying to contribute to other peoples’ lives. In many cases, the things that happened seemed a little unusual or far-fetched, but I didn’t really mind. I think it’s mainly because I knew that it was part of Tim’s rebirth. He essentially has “woken up” and is trying new things, testing the waters for what he thinks he might like. There are several sub-plots and, while not all seem necessary, I do like that they all link together somehow and that they’re all just pieces of some big puzzle slotting together. It was something of an emotional rollercoaster to read. I liked a lot of the subtle jokes and dry humour. Though, I also liked that there were kind of upsetting portions where I could feel sad or shocked at what had just happened in the book.

I liked most of the characters. My favourite had to be Derek. I just thought that he was such a sweet person and he seems so genuine. I liked the way he was eager to become friends with Tim even after being assaulted; it’s hard to explain my feelings on the matter, but I just thought that his relationship with Tim was so sweet. I thought it quite incredible that Derek was willing to forgive Tim and that Tim was doing his best to become friends with a man who he had not even noticed until the assault. I liked that Cassandra was so willing to help Tim in his new journey. I know that, in some cases, she was just doing it to help Derek or herself, but it did seem like she was also doing it to help Tim.

As for characters I didn’t really like, I suppose Clare and Todd would have to be the top of my dislike list. I just couldn’t help but think that Clare was really selfish and kind of greedy as well. It just seemed (this is just my opinion) that she kept on complaining that Tim was the one that was selfish, but only ever kept on doing things for herself. The man essentially had no money, but she kept on demanding more from him, even though she had all of their savings and used it to pay for the mortgage. She went ahead and changed the locks of their house, even though his stuff was still there and he needed it. On Todd, I just didn’t get the feeling that he was any sort of real friend to Tim. To me, it just seemed like he felt like he was being forced to meet up with Tim and that he never really wanted to spend any time with his friend. I understand that he was confused or mad by Tim’s recent behaviour, though it just didn’t seem like Todd would be the type of friend I would like to have for myself.

There are a few faults, in my opinion. There were a few storylines that felt a little unnecessary. For example, the reasons for the visit to the doctor and also the whole thing with the police and court case. I just didn’t feel like either story really seemed like they completely fit. I thought that the ending was fitting. I think that Tim’s story is essentially over for me. We (who have read it) can pretty much guess what happens next. Though, I must say that I thought the ending a little dull in comparison to what else happened in the novel (no offense intended, Mr Allen). I think that there are other characters in the book that I would like to have known more about and think that some of those storylines could be expanded well in another book. I’m quite intrigued by Josephine and her painting career, for example. I would also like to know about the Cassandra and Derek storyline.

I think that Stuart Allen has an interesting way of writing. I did really feel like it tested my emotions and it really kept me intrigued. I would like to read more of the author’s work in future. Overall, I think that it has a few faults, but nothing is really wrong with the book, save for my opinionated feelings. So, essentially, I still think it’s worth five stars.

Having just looked on the author’s profile on Goodreads- now that it’s two years later and I’m cross posting this review to my blog), it seems that he’s working on a sequel to see where Tim ends up after this. It’s going to be entitled “Double Yellow Lines”. I am still certainly interested in giving it a read! My memories of the book are still fond and I appreciate that Tim kept such an optimistic view on his life. His life was pretty messed up and he managed to bring some semblance of sanity back to it. That’s the type of idea I find comforting. Considering the characters, I still think that his wife was a pretty poor person in terms of what she did. Yes she was mad because of what he’d done, and many others out there would act in the same manner. However, I think that Tim deserved to be treated a lot better. Also, I still appreciate that it could hit close to home to many; several of us might experience Tim’s behaviour or the things he was victim to. We might find ourselves in trouble or down on our luck in these types of situations. So I think that’s what makes it such a good book for me; it takes a good, hard look at the terrible things that can happen in someone’s life and features their drive to fix things. In the two years since reading it, I don’t think I’ve come across another book quite like it. Despite it being about reasonably regular things to happen to people, it’s still quite a unique book.

There is sexual content and bad language in the book, just to warn you. It’s not the type of content that one can avoid; there’s quite a bit.

I won a copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways and these are just my honest thoughts on it.


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