Adam is in his 40s, has lost his job and his home, and finds himself needing a change of direction. His brother Gavin bought a house in the South African countryside many years back, and Adam moves in, finding it neglected and isolated.
At first Adam is lonely and unsure what to do – he plans to write poetry but has writer’s block. Then he bumps into an old school friend, Canning, in the town and he starts spending every weekend with him and his wife Baby. However, Adam has no memory of Canning, while Canning idolises Adam.
I loved this story at the start – I found Adam’s predicament and his drastic change of lifestyle really fascinating and I liked the way he got sucked into Canning’s world – despite him being a stranger to him. I also liked Adam’s forays into the town, the strange relationship he built up with his neighbour, and the way the South African landscape was described. The narrative is very simple and there is a lot of dialogue, making it easy to read.
However as the book went on, I found it a little more difficult to connect with the story, or with Adam. I found the relationship between Adam and his new friends didn’t quite work at times, and sometimes the book didn’t delve deeply enough into what was motivating the characters.
But overall I liked the book and I found the ending really interesting as Adam makes a massive decision – which stays with you after the story ends – and we find out a bit more about Canning and what Adam said to him in their schooldays that had such a profound effect on his life. I also found the setting and the characters really interesting in the main, especially Adam’s relationship with his brother Gavin, although this is a bit of an aside to the main story.
I have read The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut, which I really enjoyed, and overall I liked this one too, so I will definitely look out for more of his novels.
My rating: 8 out of 10