Thursday, January 31, 2013

Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace

Former teacher turned freelance journalist Jason Priestley has no idea that helping a girl with an armload of packages into a London taxi will begin an all consuming adventure to find her based on the photos in the disposable camera she left behind. The quest gives him a focus and a bit of hope while the rest of his life seems to fall apart before his eyes.

A quote on the cover of Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace promises it "will have you laughing out loud and melt your heart, all at once." (Cosmopolitan U.K.) Unfortunately, I think this is another book where I just don't get the humor. This may in part be due to the timing of my reading it. No where in the description was it mentioned that Jason Priestley left teaching after a school shooting incident. Now, it was nothing like the Newtown, CT tragedy and no one died or was even seriously injured. However reading about a similar event in the first two pages of the book nearly caused me to put it down all together. I am glad that I kept reading though. While I didn't find the story humorous, I did enjoy it.

Jason Priestley lives a sad life. His former girlfriend is now engaged and pregnant. He lives with his best friend Dev above a failing video game store. Even his freelance writing assignments are completed without real effort. Jason is one of those characters who drifts with no real direction. Life seems to happen to him and is always in reaction mode instead of trying to push forward and make things happen. Even the quest to find the girl who left the camera is Dev's idea and Jason just ends up along for the ride. I was happy to see Jason grow a bit throughout the book and at least by the end he seems to be pushing forward and making some decisions on his own.

There were two things that I didn't care for with this book though. The first was that Jason addressed the reader directly. I didn't like this because I wanted to simply observe his story not be a part of it. The second was the way that pieces of the girl's blog were inserted between chapters. While this turns out to be extremely relevant to the story by the end, the first time it happened I was extremely confused because I had no context for this sudden section in italics that didn't seem to fit the rest of the story. I had no idea who was talking or where any of that came from. While this may have been intentional, I found it distracting from the main story. The second blog insertion made much more sense and from that point I could at least follow the thin story thread.

Overall Charlotte Street was an enjoyable book although it was not exactly the lighthearted read I was looking for. I'm not sure what the male equivalent to "chick lit" is but I would place this book into that category.

I received a copy of Charlotte Street (October 2012, William Morrow) from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.

Purchase Charlotte Street on Amazon: eBook or Paperback

Note: All opinions presented in book and product reviews are my own. Opinions presented in posts authored by others reflect the view of the author only and not necessarily my view or opinion. If a product was given to me for review, the source of that product is noted in the post. Amazon and Book Depository links are affiliate links and I do earn a small amount for each purchase. Other affiliate links will be noted in the post.
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  1. Great, insightful review - thanks!

    1. Thanks Alison. It is funny how some books seem a bit easier to review than others.


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