Okay, so the only thing I’ve written that was anything akin to a book review was a scathing, sarcastic page-by-page commentary on the first two chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey. Still, I’m going to give this a go.
I’ve recently picked up my habit of reading again–a habit I was very ashamed to have put aside for long–and the last book I so voraciously devoured was Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace.
The novel introduces the reader to Jason Priestley–no, not the 90210 star–recovering from his breakup to his longtime girlfriend, Sarah. In the midst of this post-breakup haze, Jason bumps into a girl trying to load her bags into a cab. He stops and offers to help, and in an instant, he feels… something. But before he can do or say anything, she’s in the cab and off, leaving behind nothing but a fleeting memory.
And a disposable camera.
Propelled by his awkward best friend Dev, Jason develops the film and decides to find the mystery girl.
At first, the book starts out slow and almost seems directionless. Jason, a thirty-something bachelor and former teacher turned journalist for a tiny newspaper, lives a rather ambition-less life in a tiny apartment with his best friend. It isn’t until he finds himself in possession of this stranger’s disposable camera that he suddenly finds something to look forward to. On this journey to find the girl he thinks might just be the one, he also ends up changing his life for the better and meeting a slew of hilarious yet sympathetic characters, including a former pupil and a vaguely Zooey Deschanel-esque girl from Brighton.
The only difficulty I found in reading this was just how British it was. A London native would certainly have caught all the references Wallace was making not only to pubs and other locations, but even to things as small as brand names. I felt that, having never been to London, a lot of those references were lost on me, and I was unable to really create a good setting for myself when reading the book. Beyond this, the writing is natural and interesting. After turning to the final page, it was almost difficult for me to believe that Jason Priestley and his gang were nothing more than fictional characters in a book.
All in all, if you’re looking for a quick yet highly entertaining read, this is the book for you.
Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace: $10.73 at Barnes & Noble