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Calling Major Tom Paperback – 18 May 2017
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Praise for the feel-good novel of 2017, Calling Major Tom:
A book about loneliness, about bravery, about the walls we all put up to protect ourselves and about how it is never ever too late to try to change.
A gorgeously quirky story about families, forgiveness and unexpected friendships - sheer joy. (Lucy Diamond, author of THE SECRETS OF HAPPINESS)
...a pure pleasure to read, full of well-observed characters and hope, and a much-needed antidote for these worrying times. (Julie Cohen, author of TOGETHER)
CALLING MAJOR TOM is blooming marvellous! Original, moving and mercilessly funny, this is an unashamedly feel-good story. I laughed, I cried and I cheered for the wonderful characters. Don't hesitate - fall in love with this book! (Miranda Dickinson, author of SEARCHING FOR A SILVER LINING)
Brilliant, funny, heartwarming and exactly what everyone needs right now. I loved it. (Rachael Lucas, author of Wildflower Bay)
A funny, moving, absorbing hot chocolate of a story - hot chocolate with chilli, that is, because there were bits were I laughed aloud! The pages just turned themselves - I can't wait for the next David Barnett. (Daniela Sacerdoti, author of CALLING YOU HOME)
A bitter-sweet, original blend of social realism and sci-fi; funny, engaging and honest. (Stuart Maconie)
A book about being alone and being together, being lost and being found. One man against infinity: what are the chances? Good, as it happens. I loved this book. One huge step for a man, no longer lost in space. (David Quantick)
funny, moving, sweetly life-affirming tale (SUNDAY EXPRESS)
Utterly irresistible (SUNDAY MIRROR)
An irresistible début novel of unlikely friendships and second chances, for readers who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Rosie Project.See all Product description
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Thomas Major bizarrely ends up on a one way voyage to Mars. His life's a mess, he has nobody & he's always grumpy so why not leave Earth for good?
Accidentally from space, he telephones Gladys, nan to science mad James & his 15 year old sister. They're what you might call a "dysfunctional family". With Dad in prison & no Mum, nan's supposed to be in charge of Ellie & James but she's got demetia. So Ellie's trying do keep up at school whilst doing 3 jobs to support the family, look after nan & take care of James who suffers at the hands of the school bullies. She's terrified that the authorities will find out that they're fending for themselves, put nan in a home & split her & James apart. So how can a telephone call to a wrong number change their lives? Read this & find out.
It is, as the blurb says, a "feel good" story & what's wrong with that? Completely out of my normal book genre yet I loved it.
Basically a grumpy 40 something, whose life has been filled with misery, heartbreak, and disappointment ends up being sent on what is basically a one way trip to Mars.
What unfolds is that he inadvertently makes contact with a struggling family back on earth. The book revolves around them helping each other through troubles and soul searching.
It has traces of ‘its a wonderful life’(mentioned in the book), and a few other feel good films. Many may find it a bit too cheesy, but stick with it. It’s funny, heart warming, and soulful.
Every now and again it’s good to read a book, or see a film, that reminds you of what is important in life.
Would make a great family film
Other times I'll stumble onto one on twitter the way a drunken man sometimes stumbles onto a kebab. I'll buy and consume the first thing I see with zero research or investigation into whether it's good for me or not.
The latter was the case with Calling Major Tom.
It was advertised on twitter at 99p.
That was me sold then.
I went into this book totally blind. No idea what it was about - even want the basic premise was.
I can't remember the last time I fell in love with a book so quickly and so completely.
The character of Thomas Major is a little older than me, he's in his late forties and I turn forty next year but the sense of affinity I felt with character and familiarity with the themes covered in this book shook me to my core.
I wouldn't like to think I'm just as grumpy an old bastard as Tom is, but I'm up there. I haven't had the same series of terrible events that led to him sitting in a tin can on his way to Mars but I can 100 percent empathize with why he is the way he is. Calling Major Tom made me reflect on decisions and mistakes in my past more than any other book I've ever read.
It's a beautiful book, full of sadness, despair, laughter and hope.
David M Barnett is a fantastic observer of people and has an amazing talent for bringing comedy forth out of even the most mundane aspects of everyday life I don't exaggerate when I've been telling people about this book saying that this ability for comedy from minutiae reminds me of Roald Dahl, Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.
David Bowie isn't a character in this book, but in a way he saturates it. I Liked Bowie, but he had the audacity to die the same time as my mother so for almost a year I couldn't go near him. I'd turn off the radio if one of his songs came on. This books clever use of Bowie's death capturing the zeitgeist of the nation and being one of the hilarious reasons that Tom ends up on a one way mission to Mars was a stroke of genius. It made me fall in love with David Bowie all over again. Instead of the negative associations with my mothers death and his music, I now have positive ones associated with this book.
If you told me six months ago that one of my favorite characters in all of fiction this year would be a septuagenarian vigilante named Gladys Omerod I'd have laughed in your face. I'm legitimately considering contacting DC Comics and asking them to make Gladys the new Batman. David M Barnett made me fall in love with every single character in this book. I still love them. They felt like real people to me when I was reading and that takes real skill from an author. I really cared what happened to them. I gasped out loud more than once when peril was near.
Calling Major Tom leaps around from time period to time period, from characters in the present to characters in the past and I loved this story telling style. I only got parts of the stories piecemeal, meaning my brain was constantly trying to work out what was happening and where the story was going and it kept me guessing beautifully.Even when you think you know whats going to happen David M Barnett whips out an other little twist.
I listened to the audio version on my lunch breaks from work. David Thorpe did a outstanding job on the read of this. His performance perfectly matching the content and would heartily recommend it as the perfect introduction to the world of audiobooks.
Calling Major Tom made me laugh and cry sometimes on the same page. I'm not kidding about the crying. When I was walking back to work having just finished it on my outward journey tears were streaming down my face. I was so glad it was pissing down so other walkers couldn't see me blubbering like a fool over imaginary people who only existed in my head. That's how good a writer David M Barnett is.
Once in a while, I read a book and am left wondering how the author managed to dream that up - this is one of them.
It is a great, light hearted romp, even a page turner (without noticing the time, I sat up until 02.00 reading it) but it touches on some serious issues, all handled sympathetically, with a light touch: how guilt and betrayal turn Major Tom into the ultimate, antisocial loner; Gladys's dementia; the bullying James is subjected to at school; Ellie, forced, at fifteen, to be a carer and working illegally to keep her family together.
Initially, I wondered why Delil was brought into the story but now see that he is the counterpoint, someone who could carry a burden of issues around with him (his appearance, how his peers at school treat him, etc) but, instead, he does not give a s**t and just gets on with it.
The denouement is about as naff as could be but, in the context of the story, it fits just right (like the ending to the movie "It's a wonderful life").
Amusing, maybe uplifting and well worth a read.
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