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The Best of Adam Sharp

Review

The Best of Adam Sharp

When Adam Sharp was younger and just getting started in his IT career, he was stationed in Australia as a part of a multi-continent consulting assignment. Far from home, he took refuge at a local bar...or, more accurately, at the local bar’s piano. With Shanksy, the barman, providing free drinks and Adam’s music filling the place each night, his social scene was set. Until the night that the beautiful Angelina Brown asked him if he knew how to play “Because the Night” and in the response found his accent charming.

As Adam gets to know Angelina, he learns that she is an actress and is married-but-sort-of-separated. Their clandestine romance happens in an urgent whirlwind, both of them realizing that there’s a finite end --- Adam’s contract will eventually be up, and he’ll relocate to his next destination. And leave he does, with Angelina taking up firm residence in “the path not traveled” part of his life.

Now in his late 40s, Adam is settled and comfortable yet oddly stuck. So when Angelina reaches out with a simple email message of “Hello,” everything he thought he knew about his life is turned upside down. Between short emails back and forth, Adam begins to consider what could still be after all this time, and his heart collides again with Angelina’s against the backdrop of the music that connects them still.

"THE BEST OF ADAM SHARP is a well-written and thoughtful treatise on what it means to have loved and lost, yet be given the luxury of a second chance."

Graeme Simsion excels at making Adam a likable chap who is easy to relate to --- his logical side is balanced with his ability to feel things deeply and positively relate to people. When we meet Adam in the present, he’s living a good life. He’s a reliable son caring for his mother. He’s in a safe and dependable relationship with Claire, even though it lacks a true romantic element. And he’s excelled in his chosen profession, able to pick and choose contracts that interest him. However, the passion and zeal for life from his earlier days is noticeably absent.

Having been raised in a home where his only connection with his father was practicing the piano, music is a language Adam frequently uses to communicate. While the songs and lyrics referenced here were before my time, the author employs them skillfully as touch points for the reader. Music being a universal language, the use of this plot device was very effective, as everyone can relate to having a song that defines a period in their life. That, combined with the meals and wines described at the end of the book, makes THE BEST OF ADAM SHARP feel like a cultured read without any of the snobbery.

The mid-life crisis journey Adam is on in the current day, as well as the flashbacks that give more insight into his romance with Angelina, makes for rich themes and allows for the depth of introspective thought but doesn’t become too self-indulgent. Simsion has paced the novel well, never leaving the reader behind. As a firm believer that one must know where they’ve been to know where they’re going, I found Adam’s path of discovery --- and perspectives of those he engages with along the way --- thought provoking.

Angelina, I felt, was less successfully drawn. Perhaps because I was rooting for our main hero, I found her to be spoiled, selfish and, quite frankly, a tease. As the married party in their love affair, Angelina is unwilling to choose either side definitively, though it’s clear that her marriage is on the rocks and she has genuine affection for Adam. Simsion does try to round out her character with admirable traits of loyalty, intelligence and tenacity, but for me it wasn’t enough. I mostly cared about Angelina because Adam fiercely cares. Additionally, I don’t view the bonds of marriage or even committed relationships with the fluidity that Adam and Angelina clearly do, and that was troublesome for me throughout the book.

That said, the hard-won lessons that Adam found at the conclusion of his journey somewhat redeemed the story for me. The idea that love takes on a different tenor based on the time spent with that person poses weighty and philosophical questions with no easy answers. This book is a pilgrimage, not of how people find their better half but more of what makes that person their better half. I found it to be an unhurried examination of what love should be, and that in itself was rewarding.

Fans of THE ROSIE PROJECT and THE ROSIE EFFECT will find that, in many ways, Simsion’s latest is more adult fare. THE BEST OF ADAM SHARP is a well-written and thoughtful treatise on what it means to have loved and lost, yet be given the luxury of a second chance.

Reviewed by Amy Haddock on May 4, 2017

The Best of Adam Sharp
by Graeme Simsion

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Humor, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 1250130409
  • ISBN-13: 9781250130402