This book is a romance with a difference, the difference being that one half of the couple is a cardboard cut out of Joanne Lumley…. Yes you read that right, and honestly the pure craziness of that plot made me want to read it!
The book sees the main character, Oliver, a slightly quirky Data Protection officer in the NHS, narrate his story as his obsession grows with his cardboard cut out of Jo, whilst also battling his own mental health journey.
Whilst a work of fiction, the book reads almost like an autobiography from Oliver himself, reflective, honest and with his feelings (good and bad) laid bare. The writing style suits the character well, and whilst sometimes difficult to read - that adds to the effect of a stream of consciousness.
I found Oliver frustrating at times, but honestly most of all I found him endearing. The style of first person means you really get to know him and almost build a relationship with him throughout the story. The book has some great laugh out loud moments, balanced by some heart crushing sadness - a reflection on life.
It won’t be a book for everyone, but I’d encourage you to give it a go, John has created something a bit different here…. and if Oliver teaches us something, it’s that different is not a bad thing.
Those with an open mind and interesting in reading first person takes on mental health struggles with an entertaining element.
This book covers OCD and other mental health very well, but none the less mention of obsessive behaviours and anxiety feature prominently. There are also some mentions of sexual abuse and violence.
Who doesn’t dream of finding the love of their life? Lonely, quirky Oliver Birch certainly does, and he knows who she is. He’s adored her from afar for thirty years. But there’s a problem. Joanna is happily married to somebody else. Then, one day, out of the blue, she arrives at his apartment. And not just to visit. She’s here to stay. For Oliver, it’s a dream come true, provided he can keep a handle on where two-dimensional fantasy ends and reality begins. Will she be his saviour … or will she gradually drive him towards the unwelcome hands of a psychiatrist? Living with Jo is a love story with a difference. It explores a world familiar to many who find themselves single and adrift in later life. Sometimes they come across unusual and imaginative ways to fill emotional gaps in their lives. In Oliver’s case, it’s an imaginative step too far …
About the Author:
John Hughes was born in Sutton Coldfield in the English Midlands. He studied music at Royal Holloway College and has lived in Surrey for most of his adult life. He has earned a living in a variety of ways – selling pianos in Harrods, playing keyboards in a tribute band, as a magazine editor, in recruitment and most recently “managing” in the NHS. He has written half a dozen non-fiction books and Living with Jo is his third published novel. He has also written a collection of short stories – How to Steal a Piano. John Hughes has produced and directed films and written screenplays, with Home Alone, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off to his credit – but that’s a different John Hughes.
Thank you to The Book Network and John Hughes for inviting me to be part of the Book Tour. This ebook was provided in exchange for an honest review.