The Best of Adam Sharp
How to buy it: QBD the Bookshop, $20.99 paperback
When can I get my hands on it: Now!
What am I in for: contemporary fiction, romance, music
On the cusp of fifty, Adam Sharp has a loyal partner, earns a good income as an IT contractor and is the music-trivia expert at quiz nights. It’s the lifestyle he wanted, but something’s missing.
Two decades ago, on the other side of the world, his part-time piano playing led him into a passionate relationship with Angelina Brown, who’d abandoned law studies to pursue her acting dream. She gave Adam a chance to make it something more than an affair—but he didn’t take it. And now he can’t shake off his nostalgia for what might have been.
Then, out of nowhere, Angelina gets in touch. What does she want? Does Adam dare to live dangerously? How far will he go for a second chance?
This book is about a man getting another chance with his great love. A chance to be able to experience the “what if” scenario he has always played out in his head. I loved the first half of this book. It’s set in Melbourne and has a great musical background. I appreciate Simsion’s attention to detail. The song choices tie in perfectly with the emotions of the scenes he depicts. The story is realistic and relatable. The timeline changes between past and present and Simsion provides an honest account of a middle aged man whose life played out a lot differently than he’d hoped. Adam is content with the life he has but is nostalgic of his youth and disappointed by the underwhelming progression of his adult life. The first half of this book is sad, funny, honest and nostalgic.
“Had I painted the Australian skies a deeper blue because they were the backdrop to my great lost love?”
The second half of this book was completely different. I actually didn’t enjoy it much at all. I couldn’t understand the choices Adam made when it came to Angelina. They had a very short relationship, which essentially never transitioned out of the honey-moon period. The memories of their affair are fantasised based on their initial infatuation with each other. Simsion points this out at one point:
“A transient and impractical fantasy built on nostalgia, the romance of a torch carried for twenty years…”
To me it felt like a man having a mid-life crises and hoping to reignite moments from his youth. I loved Adam and Angelina when they were in their early twenties, but I really disliked them in the present day. They’re selfish, inconsiderate and unrealistic in their expectations. Angelina’s present day situation is very similar to her past, so it also felt a little like a broken record. I found her very annoying and the events that play out in the second half just didn’t fit with Adam’s character. Simsion spent a lot of time developing these honest and complex characters only to turn them into horny and ignorant twats. I just don’t get it.
I like the premise behind this book but I don’t think it was executed well. The first half of the book was great but the second half just felt like it didn’t belong. When I finished this book I was left feeling annoyed and disappointed. This is definitely different to his previous Rosie Project novels and I do appreciate an author with versatility. This novel is full of musical facts and is reminiscent of suburban Melbourne in the 80’s. The writing is sound and the pace of the novel is consistent. Overall, this is an okay read.
Final Rating: 3/5