Saturday, August 19, 2017

Graeme Samson: The Best of Adam Sharp

I discovered Graeme Simsion when his first novel The Rosie Project was first published. I remember sitting in many a parking lot, listening to the audiobook, reluctant to turn it off and go inside. The book made me laugh out loud, as did its sequel, The Rosie Effect.

With this newest book The Best of Adam Sharp, Simsion has made quite a departure from his first two novels. The title character is an IT consultant working part-time while caring for his ailing mother, watching his twenty-two year relationship with his partner Claire deteriorate. He spends a couple of nights a week playing bar trivia, for which he serves as music expert.

Through flashbacks readers learn that early in his career, he spent some time working on a project in Melbourne, where he often plays piano at a local bar. One evening, a young woman comes in, requests a couple of songs they end up singing together, before her escort--who Adam learns is her husband--hurries her out (as Adam plays, "You're Gonna Lose That Girl.")

He discovers she is Angelina Brown, star of an Australia cop show, and they end up having a brief love affair before he leaves the country. She's never far from his mind, though. Music is particularly evocative throughout the novel.

It is just as he's approaching fifty and feeling unsettled that Angelina sends a few short test emails, resulting in an invitation to spend a week with Angelina--and her husband Charlie--during their vacation in France.  Charlie, a foodie and wine connoisseur, is unusually tolerant of Adam's presence, and some of what occurs is not for the squeamish.

Adam's dilemma at this juncture keeps readers painfully on edge, but the musical threads woven throughout this entire novel are enough to inspire a playlist. In fact, bar trivia buffs may find themselves honing their skills--at least for the music category--before the book's end.

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