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The Last Word
on 19 January 2015
Theoretically, this should have been a novel I loved. The subject matter sounded very appealing, it is set in the literary world, which appeals to readers, and it started well. However, somehow, the book did not live up to the promise of either the storyline or the strong beginning. Harry Johnson is a young writer who has published one biography, on Nehru, and has been commissioned by publisher, Rob Deveraux, to write the life story of the great author, Mamoon Azam. Azam is a ‘serious’ novelist which, in reality, means that he has a lot of status but not a great deal of money. His reputation is fading, along with his book sales, and a new biography could be just the thing to help bring him back into the public eye.
Harry Johnson longs for wealth and security. He wants to settle down with his fiancée, Alice; to have a house worthy of his status and enhance his reputation. For him, writing Mamoon’s biography can bring him as many plaudits as the book could earn the subject of the biography. Meanwhile, as Mamoon’s second wife, Liana, begs Harry to write a ‘gentle’ book, Rob is asking him to seek out as much dirt as possible and write a salacious biography which will sell. Before long, Harry’s life is becoming complicated, he feels manipulated and his dreams begin to fall apart. Meanwhile, although Mamoon states he is happy to have Harry write his story, the author seems to avoid him at all costs – beetling away whenever he approaches and refusing to answer any questions.
Even while writing this review, I keep thinking what a good book this could have been. If I had only cared about the characters or found them more sympathetic, but somehow I didn’t. In the middle of the novel, the storyline floundered and I struggled to the end. Overall, the beginning of the book is the most enjoyable part, but it lost focus, although the author did manage to create a good ending. A reasonably enjoyable read, but it could have been so much better. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.