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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!
I loved this book so much that I immediately went out and bought another book by Paul Torday. With someone who writes as well as this, I don't think you can really go wrong.
I couldn't put the book down. The plot was ingenious, the themes topical, the characterization very credible and as an added bonus, it had me laughing out loud. That's not to say that it was a...
Published on 14 July 2010 by Kanga Cupcake

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but predictable
Pros - It's well written, and the financial backdrop and jargon seem well observed. It's also interesting (if you've read any of the author's other novels)to see how the lives of characters from other tales intersect with the characters in this story.

Cons - The parallels between Charlie the low level conman and Eck the hedge fund financial salesman are too...
Published on 14 May 2012 by Amazon Customer


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!, 14 July 2010
I loved this book so much that I immediately went out and bought another book by Paul Torday. With someone who writes as well as this, I don't think you can really go wrong.
I couldn't put the book down. The plot was ingenious, the themes topical, the characterization very credible and as an added bonus, it had me laughing out loud. That's not to say that it was a comedy. There are definitely some scary parts and one or two very scary characters. And the ending is terribly sad.
However, everything flowed, all details were relevant, and Mr Torday is a very competent and compelling storyteller.
I only wish that really good books like this would get more attention, but sadly, it's often the so-called bestsellers that end up being a disappointment. You won't get that here.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'd like to vist Torday-land, 6 Jan 2012
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D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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I do find Paul Torday's books very readable. It helps that he has characters wandering out of one book into another and plots or themes from one book prefigured in another. But also, the world he describes seems a pleasant, sunlit place, populated by decent types with names like Hector ("Eck") Chetwode-Talbot who bump up against each other in London clubs and never have to do a 9-to-5 job. Instead they live on inheritances or farm a bit. There might be some trauma in the background - in Eck's case, a nasty experience in Afghanistan - but it's kept at arm's length. As Eck says in "The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers", none of them are ever really on the edge.

Or so you might think. There comes a time, though, when the music stops, and most of the chairs have disappeared. In this book, Torday describes the recent financial crash. Eck is a roper-in for a London hedge fund, encouraging his wealthy friends to put their money in his company's "Styx II" fund. The Charlie of the title is a lower level conman, selling dodgy dog food and beetroot wine from the back of a rented van, stretching his credit and vanishing when things get too hot. What, the book asks, is the real difference between them? It's perhaps a fairly obvious point, and certainly not a subtle analysis of the crash, but Torday's characters are compelling (except the real villains, who are perhaps a bit cardboard). I did see how it would all end when I was three quarters of the way through, but it's fun to read and still quite compulsive - I had to sit up last night to finish it.

Properly I'd like to give 3.5 stars but as I can't, 4 rather than 3 for sheer verve and readability.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and easy to read tale of morals, 8 Dec 2012
By 
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hopeless Life Of Charlie Summers (Paperback)
I had enjoyed two of Paul Tordays earlier books and thought I would give this a go.
The tale is told by Hector, who is a "greeter" for a hedge fund company, attracting new clients and comforting existing investors. He observes his experiences in a comfortable way which is very easy to read and gets around the problem of relating events where he is not present by referring to stories being told to him later in time, quite a clever way of getting around a problem with a first person narrative.
I was hooked into the plot from the first page of the prologue. The story has financial blind optimism at its heart which creates a wonderful feeling of inevitable gloom in you as you are reading, as you know better than Hector about the future prospects for the investments.
There are many novels which have used the financial boom and bust as a backdrop. This one approaches the economic crisis in a very matter of fact and easy of understand way which links in well with the plot of the story.
It's a great story with some lovely characters whose only criticism can be that they are slightly overplayed. That aside it is a good fun book to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read from Paul Torday, 14 Jan 2011
This review is from: The Hopeless Life Of Charlie Summers (Paperback)
I have read all Paul Torday's books up to date and this one did not disappoint. As the plot has been outlined in other reviews, I will keep this brief and just say ''The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers'' is another great read. His earlier novels, like this one, are a mixture of humour and (often) sadness - his characters usually somewhat flawed but likeable. There is always an unusual twist to look forward to. I so enjoyed this latest novel and urge others to read it. It's impossible not to like ''Eck'' and Charlie Summers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but predictable, 14 May 2012
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This review is from: The Hopeless Life Of Charlie Summers (Paperback)
Pros - It's well written, and the financial backdrop and jargon seem well observed. It's also interesting (if you've read any of the author's other novels)to see how the lives of characters from other tales intersect with the characters in this story.

Cons - The parallels between Charlie the low level conman and Eck the hedge fund financial salesman are too laboriously worked, to the point where it is in danger of becoming a finger wagging morality fable. Also given that we all know the outcome of the financial shenanigans described, the reader can accurately predict the fates of Eck, James and Bilbo right from the outset. We are constantly reminded of the physical resemblance between Charlie and Eck, so the "mistaken identity" twist is also quite predictable once you hit the last few chapters.

It's written in the author's usual pleasant (if bittersweet) style, it's not a demanding or exciting read, but the main characters are well drawn, and it's a reasonably interesting read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A light, entertaining read, if a little slow in coming together, 6 May 2010
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John M "John M" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a very easy read, describing the interaction between the itinerant underperforming eponymous businessman Charlie Summers, who mets two friends, Eck and Henry, whilst holidaying in the South of France, and attaches himself to them. The narrator, Eck Chetwode-Talbot, is a veteran of Afghanistan now employed by a ruthless ex-school colleague who heads a hedge fund just prior to the global financial crisis and melt-down of the global banking system. The book has veins of light humourous observations running through it, as Eck tries to sort out what is important in his life whilst the events in Afghanistan come back to haunt him, and Charlie flounders from one failed business venture to the next. The separate threads of the characters comes together at the end, although I was wondering at times where it was all going. Really just a light entertaining story. Quite good but not outstanding.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great read from Paul Torday, 6 Aug 2010
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I just love this author. The story has been explained well by other reviewers so I won't describe it myself. If you like your books with a simple plot, with humour and a touch of the 'strange' then Paul Torday is for you! My favourite of his so far is The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce. Apparently he was 60 when his first book (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) was published, I really hope he has lots more books left in him!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A morality test, 25 Aug 2012
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Mr. A. J. Downs (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hopeless Life Of Charlie Summers (Paperback)
Probably the best novel (known to me) that Paul Torday has written post "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen". Here he teases over the question of the difference of an obvious old-style chancer (in Charlie Summers) and a superficially successful employee of a hedge fund business. He also follows the fortunes of characters who have appeared in an earlier novel. His style is direct and never fails to hold the reader's attention.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 1 Jan 2011
This review is from: The Hopeless Life Of Charlie Summers (Paperback)
This is Paul Torday at his best. The story is delicious from beginning to end and you just keep wishing the book would not come to an end too quickly so that the pleasure can last just a bit longer. If you like an easy to read brilliant story, beautifully told with unexpected twists and turns then this is for you. I highly recommend all of Tordays books and can't wait for his next novel out in February.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paul Torday - In top Form -The hopeless Life of Charlie Summers, 22 Mar 2010
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Mr. K. Winks "Book Beagler" (Norfolk England) - See all my reviews
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This book was Paul Torday at his best. He spins a world around his characters and, just when you find them believable and begin to understand them, he changes your whole perception within a paragraph. Do not read this book if you want a nice undemanding cosy read. But if you want to be transported to a world where your perceptions are formed and then challenged within a couple of chapters, then this is for you. An itellectual journey from start to finish.
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The Hopeless Life Of Charlie Summers
The Hopeless Life Of Charlie Summers by Paul Torday (Paperback - 28 Oct 2010)
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