The Man Who Forgot His Wife – John O’Farrell

This was another book picked up from Leamington Spa railway station (this time by my Mum, whose bookshelf I duly raided… thanks Mum!) – and it was surprisingly lovely! The concept sounded interesting enough to keep me occupied for a Saturday afternoon in the quiet countryside – a man suffers suddenly from severe retrograde amnesia and completely forgets everything, including the fact that he is married with two children! What happens now?!

The plot device is perhaps a little implausible, but I thought this would be an enjoyable light sort of story – like Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella, which works from a similar starting concept except the other way around. Or, I was prepared for it to maybe be a little darker, perhaps with some ‘gritty realism’ (i.e. depressing ending) as a counterpoint to the improbable premise.

What I found was an incredibly engaging novel, with believable characters (even if still in slightly unbelievable circumstances) and a very satisfying ending. This to me shows real skill as a writer – to take something that could easily be a silly flight of fancy, and create characters who are 3D and realistic anyway. The story had coherence, and although I don’t know if any of the medical case studies mentioned in the book are real, I sort of wouldn’t be surprised if they were – because O’Farrell has constructed such a thorough and cohesive story that something wildly outside the normal bounds of day to day life feels like it could possibly be real life. Excellent work!

Ultimately, this was a very enjoyable read for me. Engaging, interesting, and romantic without being fantastical – summed up, I think, by my comment to Mum as I put it down: That was lovely!

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