Last year, I read a book called How Not to Die Alone, and I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to it while reading this. Both feature lonely, middle-aged guys working in industries that deal with death, who develop feelings for married women, and make the realization that they need to make some changes if they don’t want to, well, die alone. In a lot of ways, the comparisons end there, but the tones of the book remain similar - as serious and dark as they are funny and poignant.
This story follows Oliver, a 39-year-old funeral director who has had feelings for a woman for years. He waited too long to make his move, and she ended up marrying someone else. When that relationship shows signs of tension, Oliver wonders if he might be getting another chance with the girl... until life takes that option away from him. He resolves to be better, make changes in his life and hopes that might lead him to a future he can look forward to, but there are plenty of stumbles along the way.
The blurb may have led you to believe that this is a romance; it’s much more a story about self-improvement. Yes, there are some romantic elements to the story but you’ll be sorely disappointed is that’s what you’re hoping the focus is. I did really enjoy the humor in the book; it’s understated and the tone is often serious, but there are definitely lighter moments to be found. The writing itself is solid and easy to read (though decidedly British, I believe), and the story is original and interesting throughout. I found it to be a little dry and not as relationship-focused as I was hoping, but there’s certainly a lot to like about the book.