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The Best of Adam Sharp: A Novel Hardcover – May 2, 2017
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Praise for The Best of Adam Sharp:
One of Glamour's "Most Anticipated Books of 2017"
"Readers are already clamoring." ―Library Journal
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“This rom-com is bursting with warmth, emotional depth, and intentional humor.” ―Entertainment Weekly
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From the Back Cover
From the #1 bestselling author of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect comes an unforgettable new novel about lost love and second chances
Adam Sharp is content. He gets on well with his partner, Claire, he does the occasional consulting job in IT to keep busy, and while he doesn’t play the piano much anymore, he is the music expert at the local pub’s trivia night. Life may not be rock ’n’ roll, but neither is it easy listening. And yet, something has always felt off-key.
And that’s his nostalgia for what might have been, his blazing affair more than twenty years ago with Angelina Brown, a smart and sexy, strong-willed actress who taught him for the first time, as he played piano and she sang, what it meant to find—and then lose—love. How different might his life be if he hadn’t let her walk away?
And then, out of nowhere, Angelina gets in touch. Adam has sung about second chances, but does he have the courage to believe in them?
The Best of Adam Sharp is about growing old and feeling young, about happy times and sad memories, about staying together and drifting apart, but most of all, it’s about the power of the songs we sing when we fall in love.--This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top customer reviews
Simsion gives the reader a classic plot with a twist or two, characters whose very human flaws prove them anything but one-dimensional, and settings that are expertly rendered. By telling his story from a male perspective, Simsion is bound to gain some male readers who would usually avoid romance; by making his protagonist a pianist, he may well attract even more.
Adam’s profession may be in IT, but his passion, courtesy of his largely absent Dad, is music: playing it, listening to it and knowing all about it. Adam’s playlist (conveniently reproduced at the end of the story or see [...] will resonate with many of the later Baby Boomer generation. The nostalgia produced may not have the same significance for the reader as it does for Adam (or Graeme), but listening is guaranteed to generate some strong feelings and memories all the same.
Simsion splits the story in two: in Part 1, the narrative switches between Adam’s life in present day Norwich and his affair with Angelina in Melbourne twenty-two years earlier; Part 2 details the events of Adam’s week in Burgundy. The former builds a strong base for a story that then begins to teeter slightly on the shaky ground of some kinky goings-on before eventually settling into a solid conclusion.
Simsion packs quite a bit into his love story: infidelity, infertility, confidence (and lack thereof), broken marriages, passion, memories, regrets, the need for approval and pub quizzes all feature. There is some clever word play (music keys, the names of imagined offspring), also quite a lot of sex, and food, and wine, and while there is humour (some of it quite dark), The Best of Adam Sharp is a departure from the style of Simsion’s Don Tillman novels: this author clearly has more than one string to his bow. A thought-provoking and entertaining read.
Adam is pushing past the boundaries of middle age but not yet a senior citizen. His partnership with Claire is at the friendship stage, passion having fled long ago. So when Adam gets an email from Angelina, more than 20 years after he last saw her, he wonders if it might change the world. That seems unlikely, since the email says “Hi” and nothing else.
The first half of the novel is largely the story of Adam and Angelina — how they met, how Adam met Angelina’s husband (a total jerk, of course), why their relationship failed — with occasional returns to the present, in the form of an email or instant message. Of course, Adam and Angelina are both in new relationships, but they are apparently reaching out to each other in search of the spark that their lives are missing.
The first half is familiar, even a bit ordinary. It occasionally relies on cliché (Adam and Angelina tell each other “the story of us,” a phrase and concept that has been seriously overused). Fortunately, a respectable amount of character development adds some freshness to a tired plot. Still, for all his charm — he plays the piano and sings and he’s considerate and respectful, who wouldn’t love the guy? — Adam is more a fantasy male than a real one. He’s too perfect, too sensitive to needs of the women he adores, too willing to adore them at the drop of a hat. And too willing to recognize his faults and change them, which as we all know, is the sort of good intention that guys manage to make good on for about two weeks before reverting to their true selves.
The second half, told in the present, is more interesting, even a bit daring at times, but the story is told in such a dispassionate, detached voice that I found it hard to make an emotional investment in Adam’s evolving life. The second half offers more insight into the characters, but not enough to make me care much about them. That’s an issue that can be overcome with a fascinating story or scintillating prose, but neither of those are present here. There are also several sex scenes that are too clichéd to be anything other than dull. The ending is safe, and in that sense predictable.
Putting aside everything else, the book is a tribute to the power of music, and I enjoyed reading about songs I love and a couple that I listened to for the first time after Adam mentioned them. There’s even a playlist at the end of the book, heavily weighted to 1960s artists, which explains my familiarity with most of the songs. That isn’t enough to save the novel, but it is enough to earn an extra 1/2 star. So 3 1/2 stars because I can’t quite say I liked it, but The Best of Adam Sharp is a little better than “okay.”