Monday, 21 January 2013
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Author: Matthew Quick
Publisher: Sarah Critchton Books
Released: September 2nd 2008
Pages: 289 (Movie tie-in paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Pat Peoples has a theory that his life is actually a movie produced by God, and that his God-given mission in life is to become emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending - which, for Pat, means the return of his estranged wife Nikki, from whom he's currently having some 'apart time.' It might not come as any surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years in a mental health facility. When Pat leaves hospital and goes to live with his parents, however, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki; his old friends now have families; his beloved football team keep losing; his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy. And he's being haunted by Kenny G. There is a silver lining, however, in the form of tragically widowed, physically fit and clinically depressed Tiffany, who offers to act as a go-between for Pat and his wife, if Pat will just agree to perform in this year's Dance Away Depression competition...
Is it shameful to admit that I'd never even heard of this book until I found out Jennifer Lawrence was starring in the movie adaptation? After I heard about it, I was determined to read it first - and when my mum conveniently got it for Christmas (guess who bought it for her?), I decided to borrow it. For some reason, the novel was nothing like I expected it to be.
The story is told from the main protagonists point of view, Pat Peoples. After spending time in a mental institution, he is finally released and allowed to go and live at home with his parents. Through his recovery, he has been working on being a better person so as to win back his wife Nikki, thus ending "apart time". However, not everything is quite how Pat remembers, and as he begins to return to the real world, he starts to uncover that things are not how they used to be.
Now reading the blurb, this book is not my kind of thing at all. It's a romance with a hint of religion in it - is there nothing I find more boring? However, it was far better than I think it was sold. Despite the fact that Pat was put into a mental institution for depression, the book isn't actually all that depressing; it is, as it hints at in the title, about silver linings, and the theme was how people go about coping with different situations, and how to make the most of a bad situation. I'd call this a coming-of-age novel, as throughout it Pat learns a lot about himself and the people around him, and he grows and develops as a person. It was interesting to read, especially considering I am at least twenty years younger than the majority of the characters - kind of eye-opening, if you will?
Admittedly, the structure and the language wasn't great. It was very simple, very easy to get into, but it wasn't a good piece of literature. However, what I liked was that Quick didn't write it with the intention for it to be like that - it was a good romance novel, something you could just grab a cup of tea and relax in a bath with. Yes, the plot wasn't particularly thick, the climax of the novel was obvious from beginning, and there was far too much about sports - however, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. There's just something about it that you've got to love.
The character's were pretty good, but as I look back on it, they weren't really developed at all. I suppose it sounds stupid saying that, considering Quick basically tells us his life story. But despite all the depth, he was still a pretty simple and plain character, not someone who I could feel myself relating to. The same goes for Tiffany, the main character aside from Pat. Whilst that was okay while reading it, on review it didn't make for a good read.
Overall, despite my complaints, I did enjoy it. The read, although very simple in the plot, language, and characterization was very enjoyable - throughout reading it, I couldn't help but wish along with Pat for his silver lining. It was a feel-good novel, and I'd definitely class it as a 'comfort read'. If you love cheesy romance, you'll love this. Now roll on the film!