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VINE VOICEon 27 January 2012
'More than you can say' offers the usual Paul Torday style of easy-reading.
The story concerns Richard Gaunt, an ex-army Captain returned from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, struggling to re-adapt to civilian life in the UK after witnessing and participating in the traumatic events experienced in theatre. Some of the characters appear in 'The hopeless life of Charlie Summers', such as Ed Hartlepool, Eck Chetwoode-Talbot and Nick Davies. The plot wasn't really what I was expecting from the blurb, because the bet to walk to Oxford was merely a scene-setting device and not the main thrust of the story, which involved an Afghan and Al-Quaeda terrorist plot. The storyline was reasonable, once the reader takes on board the enormous coincidences in the plotting, such as Richard, an ex-soldier from Afghanistan, being randomly picked up by the terrorists, and other bits of the plot that didn't hang together very well simply to make the story work, eg. the search of his flat for no particular reason but had to occur to discover his invitation, and some other things.
Putting these issues aside, Paul Torday tells a story with social and political relevance in his usual easy-to-read style.
Probably 3.5 stars.
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I was drawn into this book by its unlikely premise - ex soldier Richard Gaunt takes a bet that can walk from his club in London to the Randolph Hotel in Oxford by the following afternoon. In the course of the journey, he stumbles a set of exotic foreign villains and is soon fleeing for his life.

So the story begins with distinct overtones of John Buchan and the book acknowledges this with a quote at the beginning from Three Hostages (Wordsworth Classics). But ex Captain Gaunt isn't another Richard Hannay, he's more like Buchan's dashing and, one suspects, tortured sandy Arbuthnot (modelled loosely on TE Lawrence). And this isn't The Thirty-Nine Steps (Penguin Classics) - either the book or the film. Gaunt has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and has been damaged. As well as following his story in the present, the book flashes back to both, and to his failed attempts to build a normal life after leaving the Army. That failure leads to the kind of man Gaunt is, and to his taking the bet at the opening of the book.

In a sense, of course, the rootless, post-military life described here does fit Buchan's characters with the extract from "The Three Hostages" hinting at men who have been damaged by war experience just as Daunt is. But the style of the 20s and 30s was perhaps to make less of this, and "More than you can tell" is considerably darker. Gaint finds himself wishing for a "good" war, one that the people back at home continue to believe in.

Despite a fairly actiony ending in which Daunt - sort of - redeems himself, one isn't left with any great positive expectation for his life, still less for the outcome of the wars in which he took part. A criticsm of the book might be that it just stops, without any resolution to Gaunt's story. I think though that is appropriate, and that a tidy answer would have let this story down.

An excellent book, with a strong plot which gives, I think, a deep insight into some difficult issues while refusing in the end to judge anyone (except, perhaps, the unpleasant Kevin).
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More Than You Can Say is the fifth novel by British author, Paul Torday. Richard Gaunt is unemployed, in debt and his tally of friends is quickly diminishing. So when Ed Hartlepool makes a bet with him in the wee small hours, he is determined to win: he will walk from London to Oxford by 1pm. But then a black Range Rover knocks him off the road, and Richard’s plans go awry in a major way. Missing the bet deadline soon becomes the least of his worries.

He finds himself in a bizarre situation, and makes decisions that the old Richard, the one who hadn’t yet served in Iraq and Afghanistan, would never have made. Something of the fateful “why not?’ attitude that operated during his tour of duty takes control, and more than once, he is embarrassed and therefore reticent to explain just what led to these unwise choices.

Torday provides a backstory for Richard in the form of flashbacks to his time in the Middle East and, afterwards, the deterioration of his relationship with his family, friends and his fiancée, Emma. While for the reader, the sense of “this can’t end well” may be overwhelming, Torday still manages to include some black humour, the odd twist to keep things interesting and an exciting climax.

Torday’s characters are familiar and believable; it is easy to care for Richard even while shaking one’s head at his poor choices. Torday explores subjects both topical and eternal: the long-lasting and far-ranging effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; the role of foreign powers in the Middle East conflicts; and the importance of a strong belief in what you are doing.

Torday said he trying to find the “ultimate novel” and wrote compulsively: each of his seven novels is a different genre, and he describes More Than You Can Say as an old-fashioned adventure story. This edition also contains a reading guide and a preview of the next book Torday wrote: The Legacy of Hartlepool Hall. Several characters from previous (and future) novels play a role in this novel: Torday’s characters tend to do this. This is another brilliant novel by Paul Torday: thought-provoking, funny and entertaining.
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on 19 May 2011
I just can't get enough of these books.
I like the way that Paul Torday writes in a non sentimental style.
If you want great characters and gripping storylines then buy his books.
If you want unrealistic happy endings look elsewhere.
I cant believe this is the same author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. When I read Girl on the Landing I was hoping for a similar read. It was nothing like it, but was equally brilliant. To think that both books came from the same mind!
Subsequent books are more of the Girl on the Landing style with largely tragic central characters, that have a quality that makes you want to connect with them. It can be painful to follow their fate, but you you wouldn't want the books to be resolved in any other way.
I give all of his other books five stars. This book gets four stars simply because relative to the other books it's merely brilliant and you need a standard to measure against!
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on 11 April 2013
Sadly Paul Torday has still not managed to emulate the quality of his first novel, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. This book starts off in Torday's usual quirky manner before turning into a silly thriller containing huge coincidences and no believable characters. The editing is very sloppy in places such as when the main character, Richard, boards a bus to Ripon and in the following paragraph the place becomes Richmond. There is cliched stuff about the 'war on terror' and why are we in Afghanistan when it's a war we can't win? etc. Richard falls hopelessly in love with a woman he's just met and then acts in a reckless, idiotic way trying to protect her assuming that he can't trust the police or the security services (without any justification) before immediately telling them everything he knows! This book feels rushed and the story not properly thought through. The protagonist is unsympathetic and behaves in a self-centred manner all the way through. I was very disappointed with this book.
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on 21 February 2011
The first part of this story is totally ridiculous and my thoughts were that none of this could possibly ever happen. However, as the stroy unfolds, it becomes more and more plausible, until, eventually, I began to think that these events could really, actually happen. That is what I would call very clever story telling.

Paul Torday is an incredibly imaginative author. I liked this book very much indeed and would recommend it to any of my friends.

All that stopped me from awarding five stars was that it tended to ramble in places. In an action packed thriller, that can be most frustrating! Don't let that put you off though. It is well worth reading.
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on 2 April 2013
I have read a lot of Paul Torday's books and for me nothing beats his first one, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. More Than You Can Say touches on the harrowing experience of ex-soldier Richard Gaunt who is home after a tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. The book gets off to a good start with Richard accepting a bet, being knocked down and then meeting the mysterious Mr Khan who makes him an offer he can't refuse - all in the first chapter. I did enjoy the book, which was written in Paul Torday's usual easy reading style, but I felt some of the characters were a bit contrived, especially the hapless Emma. The last paragraph left me feeling a little depressed for Richard Gaunt and his future.
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on 5 November 2011
The first part of of this book was excellent. The setting up of the character, the mysterious happenings, really make you want to turn the page.
Once we find out what is going on I felt it became more of a standard thriller.
I like the way most of the characters in Paul Torday's books inhabit the same world. They pop up in each other's books. It would be good if Richard Gaunt could appear again. I would like to know what happens to him.
I don't know anything about the Army or Afghanistan, but the author seems to know his stuff on these subjects.
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on 30 March 2012
This is the second Paul Torday book I have read. I have also read Girl on the Landing.

I think that Paul Torday is a very talented author. I find his style engaging and his characters interesting. The structure of this novel with its flashbacks could have been irritating but in fact worked well. The reason I give it four rather than five stars is that I felt a bit flat at the end of it. I expected a twist or something more interesting to happen. It promises a lot but the ending doesn't quite deliver. However, that may say more about me than the author. I'll certainly continue to read Mr Torday's novels as it is a pleasure to read someone who writes so effortlessly.
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on 15 November 2015
I wasn't blown away by this.

The concept is indeed interesting - and there was one shocking moment toward the end that had me gripped, but generally - nothing amazing here.

I particularly liked the descriptions of Richard's time in Iraq. I believed them and felt Torday researched the military to an impressive extent.

It was a brave move writing about terrorists and suicide bombing in the detail he did. I'm just a little disappointed with this and I'm not 100% sure why. Perhaps the unsatisfactory ending tainted this for me.
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