Title: The Best of Adam Sharp
Author: Graeme Simsion
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: General Fiction
I really wanted to enjoy this book; I loved Graeme Simsion’s other works and so was pretty excited to hear that he had a new book in the works. Unfortunately, The Best of Adam Sharp did not live up to expectations and I ended up frustrated and forcing myself to read it to the end.
The Best of Adam Sharp follows a middle-aged man who suddenly hears from a woman he once had a short fling with 22 years prior to the novel taking place, one who he has unresolved feelings for. An innocuous email exchange quickly develops into something more and Adam Sharp finds himself taking a step back and looking at his life through completely new eyes.
There will be mild spoilers in this review and a lot of my reasons for disliking this book are personal preference for the types of stories and characters I like to read and themes I just can’t get into.
I think, more than anything, it was the plot of this book which caused the frustration I had towards it. All the principle characters in this book were married, or close enough, and the novel was essentially one of infidelity, coming across as a strange, disturbing fantasy. This really come to a head in the second half, to the point where I seriously considered not finishing this book, or flinging it across the room (which, given that I was reading on a kindle, would not have been a great idea).
The first half of the book was fun; I’ll give it that. I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Adam and Angelina in the past and what his life was in the present. I liked the idea of an old flame resurfacing and it prompting someone to improve their life, from their job to improving the relationship with their current partner. Simsion is good at describing the relationships between people in a fun, light-hearted way and I did think the first part of the book was good. I just could not stand where the book went and I just could not enjoy the book for trying to make me root for people I would consider awful in real life.
Where the plot was the biggest let down, the characters were a close second. As I’ve mentioned, I liked them to start with, but as the book went on I ended up going in the opposite direction to the point where I hated both Adam and Angelina, mostly Angelina as she was the driving force of this, but Adam went along with it and so deserved a lot of the (dis)credit as well.
Part of this could be because the characters didn’t really have any depth. While they did start off with potential, all they became by the end were pretty shallow people, with not much too them. The only character who did survive with any shred of dignity and humanity was Adam’s partner Claire. She was the only one who didn’t engage in any cheating and whose only ‘flaw’ was that she wanted to move to the US to continue developing her career. Sadly, she did not feature much and was more of a background character.
I have been fairly negative with this review, but after finishing the book, I could not bring myself to like it. I don’t enjoy books where there is infidelity, more so when you’re expected to like the characters – I won’t and never will like them, and the storylines just irritate me. Simsion does write really well and that is the one saving grace for the novel; his writing brings his stories to life and I think, if he had written any other story, I would have really enjoyed it. In this case, the story just did not gel with me. It happens from time to time and, sadly, there’s not much one can do about it. In my opinion, The Best of Adam Sharp was not the best of Graeme Simsion.