RED Book 20: Charlotte Street – Danny Wallace

Charlotte Street is a book for which I again broke my TBR rule[1] Why? Well, I knew who Danny Wallace was from his association with Dave Gorman, from various bits of TV, from a non-fiction book Join Me, which I read about 2/3rds of[2] several years ago. And then I saw that he was releasing a novel and read the blurb and thought, “OK, this sounds like it could be my kind of thing”.

Is it? We’ll see.

Charlotte Street concerns a man, Jason Priestley[3], who’s lost his way a little. He doesn’t have a firm grasp on his career, his long term girlfriend dumped him and he’s living above (and sporadically in) a used video games shop in a slightly dingy flat.

One day he meets a girl – on Charlotte Street – with an amazing smile who’s struggling with various bags and packages, and trying to get into a taxi. After this brief meeting he discovers she’s left behind something, a disposable camera. Of course he gets the film developed and is intrigued by pictures. Not knowing who the girl is or anything about her, Jason decides to try to use the contents of the photos as clues to to try to find her.

The rest of the book follows loosely this structure, but it also interweaves the ongoing story of his life – his attempts to get his career on track, to get over, or possibly back with his ex- and so on. At times I think it would have been better if it were a little more rigid with the structure, perhaps having a chapter for each photo.

The book is basically a rom-com concept and as such it’s perhaps inevitable that there will be some question about whether he ends up with “the Girl” or not, and if not whether it’s one of the other possibilities. I won’t give away the ending but let’s just say that I thought it was going to end up with a particular pairing, then that became obviously not the case, then I briefly hoped that was a double-bluff and then – I was disappointed.[4]  I hate when that happens. Oh well.

Charlotte Street is another one of those books about men in their mid-twenties to early-thirties who are trying to figure out what life is all about and where they fit in and with whom. I seem to have read a few like this. This isn’t one of the better ones but it’s hard to find it offensive. It’s a light read and goes down ok but it’s forgettable and a little meandering.

If you like Nick Hornby or John O’Farrell or Tony Parsons then… maybe you should stick with them 😉 If you’ve run out of their stuff right now, then this is not bad.

6/10 -a rom-com that wasn’t quite up my street.

[1]Which is now, not so much broken as lying in shattered pieces on the floor.
[2]On the one hand I didn’t finish it, but on the other I read most of it in a day, which says that I was into – on that day at least.
[3] No – as the running gag goes – not that one.
[4]I think I’d wanted him to end up with a particular woman because I thought she was the female character I liked most. However thinking about it now, I didn’t like him quite as much so in that sense she’s better off without him.

About shuggie

My name is Shuggie, Paul or LatePaul depending on where you know me from. I work in computers (databases) and occasionally write about softw
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