Why we love it: We adored The Rosie Project, and Graeme Simsion’s new novel The Best of Adam Sharp is told in his unique writing style with eccentric characters you’ll love – and a playlist to guide you through.
Adam Sharp has the comfortable life he wants. A stable (albeit boring) relationship with his partner Claire, a well-paid job in IT, and a weekly trivia night to look forward to each week – yet he doesn’t feel quite complete. While reading about Pete Best (the Beatles’ forgotten drummer), an email pops up, a simple message saying ‘Hi’ – from his long-lost love.
Twenty-two years ago, Adam was working on a contract in Australia and playing piano part-time in a bar. Little did he know when a woman comes up to him, mascara running down her face, and requests a song, that a passionate affair with (married) Angelina Brown will begin. After six months together with his contract coming to an end, Angelina is torn between her husband and Adam, and gives him a choice – a choice he doesn’t take.
In the present day, with Adam about to turn fifty, he is unable to shake off the nostalgia of what could have been. Did he choose wrong, all those years ago? When Angelina invites Adam to her holiday home in France for a week’s stay with Charlie (her second husband) and herself, Adam doesn’t refuse. How far will he go for a second chance?
This is the kind of book that will make you reflect on marriage, life and love. Changing between the past and present flawlessly, we see two young lovers transition into middle-aged adults, both unhappy in some way with their current partners, and needing each other for self realization. There’s romance, but there’s also the harsh reality of making life choices that affect other people, and Simsion has us on the cusp of wishing for a happy ending while also wanting the right decision will be made.
Graeme Simsion expresses the emotions of the characters and situations through a playlist specifically designed to be the book’s soundtrack. Adam Sharp is a piano player with a passion for music, and his song references allow us to see the love, pain, uncertainty and regret, as well as the progression of relationships beautifully and without words. It adds another layer to this quirky book and we get lost in the music – almost as much as we did in the story.
Graeme Simsion is a Melbourne-based writer of short stories, plays and screenplays. The Rosie Project is his first novel. Starting out as a screenplay, it later won the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript and has since been sold in over thirty countries. He lives in Fitzroy Melbourne with his wife.