Are novels simply self-help books masquerading as, well, novels? Frankly, yes. I think they are. Novels help us to understand the world, ourselves, and those around us. What could be more self-help than that? And novels have an added benefit that (most) self-help books don’t have: they make us feel. So, having established that, I’d like to introduce you to one of the most joyous self-help books I’ve read for a while. Its joyousness radiates from the pages, projecting itself in rays into the readers’ head and heart. You'll feel a happier person when you finish this book!
So, what’s it all about? An easier question might actually be: what is it not about? It covers so many aspects of what it is to be human: grief, vulnerability, love, family dynamics, marriage, friendship, office politics, art, the power of silence, Lucozade… The list could go on.
The two eponymous central characters are both instantly appealing, and come with a supporting cast of well-drawn and believable characters, right down to Helpdesk Greg. (Seriously. You’ll see when you read it; we’ve all met Helpdesk Greg.)
This novel is not particularly long, and yet there’s so much packed into it. But on our journey with Leonard and Hungry Paul, as they try to digest and make sense of life’s ups and downs, the reader never feels overwhelmed by the flow of ideas and emotions that lap constantly at the mind. And that’s quite an achievement in itself; we’ve all read novels where we’ve felt that the author has packed too much in and ended up with a distracting cacophony. Well, this ain’t one of them.
The author’s writing style will surely appeal to most readers. The lightness of the prose belies the wit and wisdom that is draped across almost every page of the book. I cannot remember the last time I found an author able to combine moments of great sensitivity and poignancy with laugh-out-loud humour. My heart ached for the characters, even as I found myself laughing away. The whole book hums with a gentle energy that pulls the reader in and keeps them turning those pages right to the end. As I parted from Leonard and Hungry Paul today I felt a great sense of loss, it’s true. But most of all I felt joy. So Marie Kondo, eat your heart out. Because you won’t find many things that spark joy like Leonard and Hungry Paul does.
Proprietor of editorial business Splendid Stories. Experienced, professional editor offering creative guidance, developmental editing/critiquing, copy-editing, and proofreading.