Top positive review
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A Must Read for Those Who Reach a Crossroads in Their Lives
on May 25, 2013
A remarkable book, Therapy recounts the sad-and-funny experiences of a successful fifty-something TV sitcom writer whose wife of many years suddenly abandons him. His life falls apart, he is assailed by an inexplicable mid-life angst and a puzzling knee pain that no amount of acupuncture, aromatherapy, physiotherapy, you-name-it-therapy is able to cure. The book is a classic quest for lost happiness, taking us on an unexpected and unforgettable pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain before resolution is found.
David Lodge is one of my favorite authors and along with Malcolm Bradbury, who was his closest writer friend - they're both major exponents of the campus novel genre - he is surely one of the top satirical writers of the 20th century (no, he's not dead yet - look for more masterpieces from him!)
You know what is the most surprising thing about this book? It was first published in 1995! Yes, that's some fifteen years before we started talking earnestly about Boomer Lit, with the creation of a Goodreads Group to discuss Boomer Lit. Yet Therapy is quintessential Boomer Lit. It hits on all the major points that make for a top Boomer Lit read:
- a mature adult protagonist facing a major life transition as his marriage and job unravel;
- a range of challenges that are typically those boomers are facing today;
- coping mechanisms and complex characters that are the result of a lifetime of experience.
The plot and characters are not simple, only a mature writer could have written this with the necessary depth of experience and nuances in sensibilities.
Add to this David Lodge's writing talent and you have a masterpiece, rich with unforgettable character descriptions, surprising twists and turns in the plot and a whole array of thoughtful observations. From a technical point of view, Lodge shows his virtuosity with masterful changes in points of views, each written with a different "voice" to reflect each character.
Some of the reviews on Amazon mention that this is a book about a "mid-life crisis".
But this is not a mere mid-life crisis, it is much more!
Consider the main character, Tubby Passmore (I love the name!). Once he has solved his problems, can he go back to the way everything was before the crisis began? Because that is what the term "mid-life crisis" implies: that you can return to what you were before. The answer is he cannot. Things change in Tubby's life in such a radical way that he is forced to embark on the "Third Act" in his life. And learn to live differently. This is where David Lodge's Therapy is similar to Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: they both throw their main characters on a harrowing quest to find a new self, in short, a picaresque pilgrimage - across England for Harold Fry, to Spain for Tubby Passmore (after he's gone through Tenerife and Copenhagen, yes, I told you, expect some surprising turns!).
This is the fundamental question at the heart of Boomer Lit: who are we? After a lifetime of work, of living with a partner/lover, what is left of oneself when everything that has defined our lives disappears?