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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 18 May 2014
I'm a big fan of chick lit and this book is basically chick lit from a male perspective. The characters were real and relatable to. I particularly liked that this book featured locations in and around Birmingham so I knew them well. Matt is anxious about turning the big 3-0 and it's basically the journey of the final month of his twenties. It's a book that will appeal to those also who've already taken the journey and are in their thirties and for those like me who are in their mid-late twenties. You'll laugh out loud, have a little cry and generally feel everything Matt feels along the way.
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on 28 July 2013
The book is directionless. I liked the beginning and I love the idea of discussing relationships and what goes wrong. The main character is very nice and his general situation may reflect the lives of real men turning thirty. Even though he seems lost, I would've preferred it if the book wasn't. There were quite a few pointless chapters that didn't make the story progress and I started skim reading to get past the pointless parts. I got bored. I did like reading about the character's friendship and past with Ginny and his other friend, especially the memories of school and University, which personally appeal to me.
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on 17 January 2015
30 is one of those funny ages, where you can still be told “oh, you’re still young” by people who have reached it, but where teenagers and people in their early 20s can make you feel dreadfully old. 30 is also one of those ages you use as a deadline. When you’re young, it seems so far away and so adult that you can safely say “I’ll do this by the time I’m 30”, knowing you have plenty of time. But as that deadline grows nearer, you wonder if your life is what it’s all made out to be.

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
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on 28 January 2008
Matt believes he has it all with a great job in New York and a live-in girlfriend who he thinks will be the one. Not the one for life perhaps, but certainly the one that will be with him when he turns 30 in a few short months. Matt's life plan has always been to be settled down by 30, but this plan slips when his girlfriend leaves him and he decides to return to Blighty. With 3 months until his new job starts in Australia, Matt finds himself 29 years old and living with his parents. To keep himself amused he decides to rekindle old friendships with his school pals. Will Matt be able to find someone to spend his 30th with and will he ever manage to get his life together?

`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.
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This is a light-hearted story of Matt Beckford, a man about to turn 30 who has just split up from his girlfriend and moved back to Birmingham from New York, before he moves again to Australia. When he arrives back in Birmingham he looks up his old pals, including an on/off (more off than on) flame, Ginny.

It's not a taxing read, and not the best Mike Gayle book I've read, but nice and easy nonetheless.
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on 13 January 2006
Being a little over two years away from the big three oh myself this book struck a chord with me. Many of Gayle's observations about how one feels as they approach thirty were not only hilarious but also right on the money.
Matt Beckford is turning thirty in about 89 days and his life is falling apart! He thought by the age of thirty he would have it all together, the fancy high paying job, the woman who was "the one" to spend his life with and the trendy house complete with the requisite "thirty-people's" wine rack. However, Matt finds himself three months away from his birthday moving out of his live in girlfriend's apartment and back to Birmingham to live with, dare I say it...his PARENTS! Now Matt has to figure out what turning thirty really means and he enlist the help of some of his oldest friends to figure it out.
This is the third novel by Gayle that I have had the pleasure of reading and he is definitely a very talented and witty author whose voice has never gotten lost in his stories. As popular as Gayle is in the UK it is surprising that he isn't better known it the US however now with the wide re-release of `TURNING THIRTY' he may just find himself at the top of the US's best sellers list soon.
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on 6 September 2000
Mike Gayle's third book didn't turn out to be the 'flop' that I thought it might have been. As usual, his style of writing kept me glued to the book chapter after chapter and I really could not put it down. It is written with his usual wit which makes the reader definitely feel like the events are taking place in their life. I thought the e-mailing throughout would have annoyed me but each time they came around I was more glued to them than the story line itself. It truly was an amazing read. I can't wait till Gayle writes another one, I do hope that the next one though doesn't make me cry at the end!
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on 30 March 2001
From the moment I read the first page I was hooked on this story. The easy almost conversational writing style made it effortless reading towards a conclusion that I did not see coming and did not want to happen. Having transplanted myself into the lead charachter I was left feeling incredibly low for a couple of days after I finished the story.
I cannot give the book greater praise than to say it left its mark on me.
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on 11 September 2000
As someone on the cusp of turning that fatefully age I was instantly drawn to Mike Gayle's latest offering. The prolific writer continues to create wonderfully funny and realistic scenarios that never alienate the female reader despite the male narrative. This is by far my favourite of his books to date and I especially the heartfelt nostalgia trips that my friends and I also regularly indulge in. My one criticism is that some of the characters needed more flesh on their bones. Brothers and sisters are briefly mentioned then dismissed, which left me wanting. For the record, I read this in one sitting and for the first time in a while, was not let-down by a trite, lazy ending. Gayle as always, is a pleasure to read, never failing in making the reader feel like a personal friend.
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Gayle's previous two books showed a man who was clearly in tune with the modern man's failure in relationships. In Turning Thirty, he turns his hand to the other twenty-something male obsession - age. While there are set pieces that could be taken straight from My Lengendary Girlfriend or Mr Committment, this is a more mature book, relying less on the laughs and without the perfect Hollywood endings of the others. The story focuses on a man approaching thirty, just broken up from his girlfriend, who decides to go back home to his parents in a three month break from work. There he hooks up with old friends to discover the meaning of life, etc. Anyone who loved the film "Beautiful Girls" will love this!
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