It wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea - working for the local council managing the funeral arrangements for those who die alone - but it suits loner Andrew Smith. Not that his colleagues think of him as a loner - following an awkward moment at the job interview, it was a case of needs must, and now he is saddled with a fictitious wife and two children. But his life, fictitious or otherwise is about to change with the arrival of a new co-worker, Peggy Green.
Quirky and poignant, this life-affirming story deftly juggles the challenges of loneliness, social isolation and the need for connection, with dark humour and warmth. [Larger font]
Robust discussion! A believable story, and we enjoyed Andrew and Peggy's relationship. Enjoyed the humour and the complicated lifestyles of most characters. Many related to Andrew's made-up family - had personal experiences of similar behaviour as children.
We enjoyed the way this book was written, about a subject we found fascinating, disconcerting, and knew nothing about! We liked the ending.
The group really enjoyed reading this book. It was an amusing read with some well-drawn characters and events that generated some good discussions in our group.
Our favourite book of the year. So many themes dealt with: loneliness, death, deceit, romance - but all done with a sense of humour and believability.
Easy to read style, but thought the style was contrived. Brought together beautifully by its satisfying ending.
All agreed it was easy to read, and some found it amusing. Some of our group, however, disliked it enough to not bother reading it. We found it tackled a number of issues but not entirely successfully.
Most of us were not enthusiastic to begin with, but the book developed well with thought-provoking and good discussion topics. So our rating improved with reading!
Most of our group thoroughly enjoyed this book. Some found it a little slow, some found it funny and others not. All found it thought-provoking and took time to reflect on loneliness and its consequences.
Most people quite liked it. It wasn't at all funny though.
We all loved this book.
Not a topic we had given much thought to, the burial of people without friends or families, but it was dealt with in a sympathetic and humorous way as was Andrew's personal situation. We felt like giving him a bit of a shake when he felt it impossible to tell the truth. An easy read but not high on our recommended list!
We all liked it, but not sure we'd recommend it ( if that makes sense!). A lonely anti-hero protagonist trying to make sense of his relationships. Thank goodness there was humour underlying throughout. Here's to friendships!!!
The author chose an unusual occupation for the main character which added to the interest in the story, and the themes of grief and loneliness were well interwoven. We ALL enjoyed the book.
We LOVED this book. As it says on the cover, it was brilliant, hilarious and moving, and the characters were so real. You could never live such a lie in a small town (like Te Kuiti!). Very very well-written. A great read.
Overall, enjoyed by everyone, despite the frustration at all the detail. We liked the way the past story was revealed at a point of crisis.
Interesting discussion although we all agreed the book was about grief rather than loneliness, and was sad rather than hilarious.
Most people in the group enjoyed this book and found it easy to read. Created good discussion as many hadn't even really thought about this topic. A couple of members struggled with the lies and felt he could've gotten out of it earlier.
Most of us enjoyed this book, and gained more insights into Andrew's character with the discussion. The book dealt with the details of lonely deaths in a sometimes quirky way. It also showed the results in Andrew's life, of not coming to terms with traumas of the past, which continue to have impact. But the book did have a hopeful ending.
Slow start but a good read.
An easy read with some sad lives - people dying alone.
Generally well-liked by the group. It was an intriguing subject - funerals put on by a council because family members were not a part of the deceased's circle. Grief seemed to be the main theme, with the main character, Andrew, alluding to a family that it turns out he doesn't have. Quite thought provoking!
A depressing subject, most could not empathise with the protagonist. But he can write, everyone finished the book and it stimulated a lively discussion.
Most of our group enjoyed this book, full of great characters and the settings resonated with our members originally from the UK (more that half of our group!). Some found the main character's occupation an unpleasant part of the story whilst others found it to be fascinating. It promoted a good discussion regarding anxiety and other mental health issues.
Once you got into it, it was all right. Once you understood why he was like he was, you saw where the author was coming from. A light, fun read.
A nice easy read to start the year off. It makes you realise how people lose contact with friends and family so easily.
Many people thoroughly enjoyed it; some thought it one of our best reads this year.