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This Book Will Save Your Life Hardcover – 5 Jun 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (5 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862078483
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862078482
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 22.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 768,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Witty and well written while in pursuit of the spirits living inside the machine' -- The Times

‘A witty, well-written, very clever satire on life in Los Angeles’ -- Irish Times Online

‘AM Homes has an uncanny talent for transforming tales of bleakness into the most affecting stories’ -- Red

‘Homes proves, with this stylish, compassionate tale of transformation, that she has everything going for her’ -- Esquire

‘packed with unexpected pleasures’ -- The Guardian

Book Description

A vivid, touching and very funny novel about loneliness and integration set in LA. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 136 people found the following review helpful By M. Dean on 6 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thought this book was fantastic!

The book is an easy read, and I found it very difficult to put down. It's about Richard, a wealthy but lonely man in LA who needs to do something more with his life. You don't feel particularly sorry for him, but get intricately involved in his life, as he develops a friendship with Anhil, who sells donuts and provides wisdom, and from there seems to pick up people along the way who are in need of a friend, as is he. The people he meets are very interesting, and vividly described, so that they become your friends too. The book also explores Richards relationships with his family; his brother, parents, ex-wife and son.

As it's set in LA it also describes how life differs there - the Beverley Hills way of life, with constant sunshine, a focus on looking good, eating healthily and 'being someone'. (Its references to Malibu Beach and Santa Monica and the pier brought back great memories of a holiday I went on to those places last year).

Ultimately however, it shows that people are all individual human beings who need friends and need to be loved, and it doesn't matter where they come from or how rich they are, they all have the same needs.

It was a joyful, uplifting book, which didn't preach, but just told a story which was funny to read and sad to have finished. So quickly over! Read it in the depth of winter to cheer you up and bring sunshine into your life, or on holiday as an easy, relaxing read. It will fit the bill.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By John Self on 26 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On the penultimate page of This Book Will Save Your Life, the protagonist Richard Novak thinks about a story he has been told and wonders:

"Was there some larger meaning - was it a parable, an allegory, or just a story?"

It's clearly intended to apply to the novel itself, which is quite one of the strangest things I've read in some time. On the one hand, all the events are dealt in a deadpan, somewhat blank prose, so there's a benevolent straightforwardness to it all. On the other hand, many of the events are highly implausible, and it is only the style which keeps it from seeming either forced or - the dreaded - 'quirky.' For example at one point Novak finds himself on the television news helping a movie star to rescue a horse from a subsiding hole in the ground outside his Los Angeles home. Ah, his home:

"Above and below, a chain of houses climbs the canyon wall: a social chain, an economic chain, a food chain. The goal is to be on top, king of the hill - to win. Each person looks down on the next, thinking they somehow have it better, but there is always someone else either pressing up from below or looking down from above. There is no way to win."

And it must be this realisation which has jolted Novak's body out of its routine, and broken him away from his controlled, orderly and efficient life as a market trader ("placing his bets, going long and short, seeing how far up or down he can go, riding an invisible electronic wave") to fill him with an excruciating physical pain. This is how the novel begins: with the sudden crushing pain - never diagnosed - which sends Novak to the emergency room and out into the world, into the mess and fuss of humanity, for the first time in years.
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84 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Adam K. on 14 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
A rich man in L.A. has a panic attack and spends the rest of the book spending money in an attempt to figure out why. Luckily, he has a LOT of money, so he gets excellent and immediate health care, books himself into a meditative retreat for an expensive spell, buys himself some new friends and, when his luxury house develops structural problems...why, he just rents himself another one. And that's about it. Oh, his estranged son turns up and, between various plot contrivances that have nothing to do with anything, they "bond" and, naturally, he buys him a brand new car.

No exaggeration: this is probably one of the worst novels I've ever read: thin to non-existent characters, no plot, (instead,a rambling collection of incidents that only serve to show how rich the main character is) , flat and/or self-conscious dialogue: "That's the problem" says a character at one particularly "insightful" point. "People think what they see is real". Wowww[...] Not exactly Thackeray. Not even Harold Robbins. As insightful as an infomercial and of particular poignancy to those who can identify with a character who has so much money he can buy himself out of anything.

Reading the blurb on the back of the paperback version, I deduced that some sort of sappy life-affirming friendship was going to spring up between this man and the donut shop owner, Anhil. Luckily, I was wrong, as Anhil is merely a less convincing version of Apu from The Simpsons, drafted in for no other reason than to provide dubious comic relief with his "comical" manglings of the English language. Appalling, mind-bogglingly dreadful stuff. Do your bit for the state of modern fiction and avoid this book.
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56 of 65 people found the following review helpful By DubaiReader VINE VOICE on 6 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
I, personally feel that this book would have slipped through the net if it hadn't been for all the hype attached to Richard and Judy book nominations.

It was an easy read, but left me feeling a bit empty, like I wasn't sure why I'd bothered.

We meet Richard Novak, a reclusive on-line investor, as he starts to show all the signs of the onset of a heart attack. As a result he is forced to leave his enclosed world as he calls an ambulance and goes to hospital. This seems to have been a bit of a wake-up call and he decides to change direction and make something of his life. Then it all starts to become a bit unbelievable as one calamity after another hits his house and he becomes a bit of a local hero / superman figure. The odd bit of assistance here and there would have been fine, but to have managed quite so many good deeds and heroic actions in such a short space of time was rather stretching belief.

The one aspect of the book that I did enjoy was the repairing of bridges between himself and his son, who he'd left with his wife after the break-up of their marriage.

The finale is suitably over-the-top, a fitting end to a strange book.
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