Smart, darkly funny, and life-affirming, How Not to Die Alone is the bighearted debut novel we all need, for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, it’s a story about love, loneliness, and the importance of taking a chance when we feel we have the most to lose.
For Andrew, what started as a harmless (albeit false) offhand comment to his boss turned into a sustained lie that his whole office believes. Reviewers Chris and Jed tread on this tangled web that Andrew has built to keep his heart safe, and they follow him as he, after over forty years of being alive, finally starts to live. Read their thoughts below.
The Double Life
Chris says: Andrew is a 42-year old loner working in UKs Death Administration Council. His job is to go through the recently deceased house to find a next of kin. Distracted by his imagination, [he] tells his boss, Cameron, that he is married to Diane, who is a lawyer, and they have two kids, Steph and David. In reality, he spends his time alone in his house chatting online with a group of model train aficionados.
Jed says: Andrew is 42, single, and deals with the dead for a living: he sifts through the apartments and houses left behind by people who die alone. He has also led his officemates to believe that he is happily married with two kids. […] How Not to Die Alone begins with this snapshot of loneliness — a man trapped by his desire to conform and be normal. He talks about his son’s interests and his daughter’s allergies and his wife’s high-powered law career. The thing is, none of it is real.
The Game Changer
Chris says: A new employee, Peggy, joins the team and Andrew’s life is never the same again. He finds himself drawn to Peggy, who is in a troubled marriage. […] In between their inspections of houses of recently deceased persons, an easy bond grows over them, but everyone in the office knows Andrew is married.
Jed says: Andrew is content to live his life and his lie, just getting by with no regard for the future. However, when newcomer Peggy joins their team at work and begins cultivating a friendship with Andrew, he starts to think that there might be something more to life.
Humor and Heartbreak
Chris says: The book is at once both funny and heartbreaking, depicting the funny situations (and smells) Andrew and Peggy find themselves in. […] Slowly, the book peels the layers of Andrew’s life giving the readers a glimpse of all the lost possibilities and unfulfilled happiness in his life. It shows how loneliness and isolation is not a product of a single catastrophic event in one’s life, but a series of disappointments and little heartbreaks that pile up until it becomes almost impossible to breathe.
Jed says: While How Not to Die Alone is without a doubt a very funny book, it’s the rare novel that can convincingly capture the crushing existential dread of coming home to an empty apartment, putting on some old timey jazz, and reveling in the all-too-comfortable solitude of a life spent safe and alone. […] Richard Roper’s narration of Andrew’s life is on point: witty, straightforward, and with just the right flavor of bitterness.
How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper will soon be available at Fully Booked branches. Email us to request for a copy.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]