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Turning Thirty Audio Cassette – Audiobook, Unabridged
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Mike Gayle's previous novels My Legendary Girlfriend and Mr Commitment have already wittily chronicled living and loving among the twentysomethings at the end of the 20th century. As time marches on, Gayle's latest novel Turning Thirty deals with what happens when his characters reach that most dreaded of moments--the big three-o. Matt Beckford is reaching that time of life. At the age of 29 he thinks he has answered those two crucial questions you ask yourself as a teenager: "What am I going to do with my life?" and "Will I ever get a girlfriend?" Living as a computer expert in New York with the lovely Elaine, Matt thinks he's cracked life. But then both he and Elaine suddenly realise that their relationship isn't working. They split up amicably, realising that "biology is telling us there's no point in crying over spilt milk", and Matt heads back to his friends and parents in Birmingham. As his 30th birthday looms, Matt meets Ginny Pascoe, an old flame, or more accurately "a girl who was also a friend who I sometimes snogged", and things get more complicated as he realises that he's falling for Ginny--again. The transatlantic love triangle that develops between Matt, Ginny and Elaine is funny and refreshing, and lacks the usual angst you would expect from such a situation. As Matt enjoys the nostalgia of going out with old friends and loves, he also realises he needs to sort out his life, as 30 beckons. Turning Thirty is another sharp, funny and astute offering from Gayle, that won't disappoint his growing army of fans. (This review refers to the hardcover edition of this title.) --Jerry Brotton
Not just readable, fresh and witty but sophisticated in execution . . . funny but also poignant (Independent on Sunday)
A warm, funny romantic comedy (Daily Mail)
Mike Gayle has carved a whole new literary niche out of the male confessional novel. He's a publishing phenomenon (Evening Standard)
Delightfully observant nostalgia . . . will strike a chord with both sexes (She)
Mike Gayle manages to weave everything together with such a warm-the-cockles-of-your-heart manner that once you've finished reading Turning Thirty you want to turn right back to the beginning and start all over again. It's real life - but better than we know it (B Magazine)
Funny and endearing . . . chuckle-on-the-bus readable (Heat)
Included in Greg Eden's (Bertrams) selection of best adult audiobooks for the season, alongside 2 other Gayle titles - Bookseller Sep 29, 2000, p39
'Three audio tie-ins to the works of one of Hodder's most successful young contemporary novelists'
Top customer reviews
I’d had a copy of Mike Gayle’s “Turning Thirty” for a while, as I’d heard good things about his writing and had found a cheap 2nd hand copy. But it was only as that venerable age approached that I decided I’d perhaps best give it a read. After all, I didn’t know what 30 had in store, and could do with a little help. So, the week before the big day, I started taking it to work to read on the bus, joking with colleagues that it was my instruction manual for the big day.
What a mistake that turned out to be!
Matt Beckford is looking forward to turning thirty. He set up his goals for that birthday years ago and, as it approaches, he has the life he always wanted. He has a decent career, a wonderful partner and he’s going to be spending his 30th birthday in New York, and not his home town of Birmingham which, for Matt, is the ideal situation.
Of course, nothing goes to way you plan it. 6 months before the big day, his girlfriend decides they should go their separate ways. This, because they’re living together in New York, and it’s her town rather than his, begins a series of changes. To assist the parting, he asks for a transfer away from New York and heads back to Birmingham to stay with his parents for a while before moving on again to his new job. Unfortunately for Matt, this means he’ll be spending his 30th birthday in his home town, without his ideal job and without a girlfriend. Indeed, without all the things that threatened to make turning thirty bearable in the first place.
Returning home, Matt starts trying to get his old group of friends together again, despite having not seen any of them for a number of years. He discovers that whilst everyone had their dreams at thirteen, no two people’s lives are the same all those years on. Many have jobs; some of them even the job they wanted. Some have married and have children. And one, as they discover to their sadness, will never turn thirty, having died some years before.
What potentially sets Mike Gayle apart from a lot of the other writers working in the chick- and bloke-lit genres at the moment is that he’s still in touch with reality. A lot of the situations in “Turning Thirty” could really happen to any of us. It’s maybe a little unlikely that all of them would happen to the same person and certain things, especially the ease with which he manages to track down his old friends and how easily their relationship seems to slip back into focus as if they’d never lost touch, are a little unrealistic, but by and large, this is real life. Whilst you can’t see yourself in the scene, you do care a little about the characters and, more importantly, you want to know what’s going to happen next. It’s a little like watching the soaps on TV. You know it’s not really life, but it’s near enough to keep you involved.
Gayle’s writing style helps out a lot here, as well. He writes with a kind of easy, laid back style that mirrors the pace of many of our lives, particularly when they’re in a hiatus, like Matt’s is. Somehow, though, it’s tough to take your eyes away from. Again like the soaps, you know that something is likely to happen fairly soon but, unlike some of them, it’s easy enough on the eye that you keep going with it.
However, for all its good points, reading “Turning Thirty” depressed me. As Matt observes in the book, “I think the art of taking [turning 30] well is being happy with what you’ve got”. Reading this when I did, a few days before I was thirty, and not being entirely happy with my lot, made it depressing. I was a little too involved in the story, not for the sake of the story, but for how it compared to my own life. Sadly, my own life didn’t match up to Matt’s, despite the situation he found himself in and that proved highly depressing. Had I read the book four years ago, when it was first published, I think I might have appreciated it a lot better.
This may not be the case for everyone, however. If you’re outside the 25-35 age range, this will be an amusing look forwards, or backwards, to that age where everything should be settled by. For the over 30s it may act as reminiscence, for the under 30s, it may be motivational, as I don’t think any of us want to celebrate our 30th birthday and then go back to our mother’s.
If you’re within that age range, you need to think carefully before you read this. If life has turned out the way you hoped it would, then read this book. It’ll be a light hearted read about other people’s lives. With the broad range of characters and how their lives have turned out, there’s a pretty fair chance you’ll recognise yourself in here somewhere, which is never a bad thing. Even if there isn’t, it’s a pretty good read anyway.
If you’re anything like me, however, and want more, or different, from what you have at 30, then stay clear. There is no catharsis here, just the realisation that even when a fictional character loses all he has; he still manages to have a more fulfilling time that you’re having. It’s a depressing experience, and you’d be far better off reading about someone blessed with luck even worse than your own.
But when you reach 35, or when you are in a situation where you’re happy with what you have, by all means come back and have a read. Depressing though it may be if read at the wrong time, it’s still an easy, enjoyable novel. It’s not Mike Gayle’s fault that I happened to pull this book off my shelf at potentially the worst possible moment for it and I can see this is something I would have enjoyed immensely at any other time.
Incidentally, if you’re around 30 and you don’t think you could stand the hurt this book may cause you, I can recommend Mike Gayle’s others. Despite what he’s done to me of late, he’s quite possibly the best bloke-lit author I’ve read, with a lightness of touch and a feeling of reality that Hornby and Parsons seem to lack. Give him a chance, as even I can see that he didn’t depress me on purpose, it just happened that way.
This review may also appear under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
`Turning Thirty' is another quintessential lad lit book from Mike Gayle. The entire book is incredibly laid back and has an effortless feel to it. This means that it is an easy and pleasant read, but it never does anything to inspire the reader or make it stand out from the pack. Matt is a likable enough character, although like in many of this type of book he thinks far too much rather than getting on with life. I do enjoy this type of novel on occasion as something different, however, even though the plot of `Turning Thirty' is meant to resonate with me I found it rarely did. A nice enough read for a couple of nights, but nothing to write home about.
It's not a taxing read, and not the best Mike Gayle book I've read, but nice and easy nonetheless.