The Best of Adam Sharp is like Sliding Doors meets High Fidelity. The third novel by author, Graeme Simsion takes a more dramatic and wistful approach to his previous novels, The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect. In Adam Sharp, Simison grapples with the question of “What if?” and produces a well-written dramedy and meditation on love, lust, regrets and second chances.
Simsion’s third book stars the eponymous Sharp, a Manchurian, IT contractor who appears to have a comfortable life with his wife Claire. From the outside looking in the pair appear happy. Sharp earns a good income and is a music trivia expert and music fan. One day this bubble of contentment is burst when Sharp receives a simple email from an old flame, a former actress named Angelina Brown.
Sharp and Brown first met in Australia in 1989 while the former was working here on a temporary contract. The two met and had a fling but this soon turned into something more serious as the pair fell in love with each other. Sharp was conflicted and torn between having to leave the country due to work commitments and staying and pursuing his fledgling relationship.
When Sharp receives an email some 22 years later a flood of emotions comes rushing back. He is left having to question what might have been if he had stayed in Australia. He is also presented with the prospect of rekindling his relationship with Brown even though she is married and has children. The book is divided into two parts, the first focuses on Adam’s present life in Norwich and features flashbacks to the time he experienced his first real love in Australia. The second part goes into more detail about the pair’s reunion in France.
This novel has a large Spotify playlist and songs that are also littered throughout the text. These are mostly from the sixties and seventies and help set the tone and underscore the emotions of Adam’s first person account. The narrative deals with some complex issues like: infidelity, death, infertility, emotional abuse, divorce, regrets and passion. The characters are not always likeable but they are very well-written and developed. They are also rather complex and human, especially when they change their mind in a split second or do the silly things that we are all guilty of.
The Best of Adam Sharp is a long, slow-burning novel that reflects on two major relationships in its main character’s life. It also reveals this through the prism of different music, emotions and memories. The story is a little laboured in the middle but the beginning and end hit all of the right notes and show how messy and sentimental human relationships can be. Graeme Simsion does an excellent job of taking the rather simple premise of examining a great lost love and presenting the possibility of a second chance. Simsion ultimately paints a detailed and entertaining portrait of a flawed and wistful man who wants a romance to be more than a silly love song.
Originally published on 4 October 2016 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/book-review-the-best-of-adam-sharp-by-graeme-simsion/
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