Originally published: 27 June 2019
Author: Richard Roper
Published by: Orion Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Reading dates: 13-16 June 2019
42 year old Andrew works for the council in a department known as “Death Administration”, searching for people’s next of kin if they have died alone with no obvious family. More often than not he attends their funerals too, despite this not being part of his job. His main concern is that dying alone will be his fate. He lives alone in a rather run down flat with only his model trains for company and the only people he talks to apart from his colleague’s are the fellow train enthusiasts he has met online.
However, due a misunderstanding which he has never found a way to resolve, his colleagues think he is happily married to Diane (a lawyer) and has two children (a boy called David and a girl called Steph) and lives in a smart town house. When his boss decides to try and improve team relations by holding a “Come Dine with Me” type event, Andrew has no idea how he is going to continue his lie.
When warm, friendly and funny Peggy joins the office team, and has to shadow Andrew learning the job, she awakens something in him and he starts to think there maybe more to life.
Warmly written, this is the perfect book to snuggle up with on a sofa with a hot cup of tea and lose yourself in. Andrew is rather a sad character who hasn’t had the best life, losing both his parents before reaching adulthood and being largely estranged from his older sister. He loves his model train set and music by Ella Fitzgerald but isn’t happy with his lot…he just doesn’t know how to change things.
But when Peggy bursts into his life like a ray of sunshine, he starts to think about how things could be different. I loved their relationship! Peggy’s life is not without problems as her partner is an alcoholic but she has two daughters whom she loves very much. She encourages Andrew to have a bit of fun, taking him to the pub after their first time together visiting a dead man’s house and even taking him on a road trip to try and track down a dead man’s former girlfriend.
I loved the train set refences – my granddad had a model railway that took up a whole bedroom and I’m sad to say I don’t have any photographs…but I have a soft spot for anyone who loves a model railway!
Reminding me a little of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, this is another book in the new “Uplit” genre. With themes of loneliness and how a little bit of kindness can make all the difference, this book was charming and life affirming and I’m positive it will be a best seller this summer. For fans of David Nicholls and Nick Hornby, this is an impressive debut that I really enjoyed.
Many thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me on the blog tour and to Orion for sending me a proof copy! Be sure to checkout the other stops below:
About the author:
Richard Roper was inspired by an article he read about the council workers who deal with situations when someone dies alone. Their days are spent sifting through the ephemera of those who’ve slipped through the cracks, searching for clues to a next of kin. Council workers are under no obligation to attend the funerals. Yet they do, sometimes dozens of them a year, just to make sure at least someone is there.
Richard Roper lives in London. SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR is his first novel.