Man and Wife by Tony Parsons

Man and Wife by Tony Parsons

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover (available in trade), 340 pages, 2002

Rating: 3/10

Reason for Reading: Man and Boy was a pretty good book.

Synopsis: Harry is back in a sequel to Man and Boy, trying to cope with being married to a new woman, and his ex-wife taking his son Pat to America from England.

Why you should read this book: You’re curious as to what a Hallmark card would sound like stretched out over 340 pages.

Why you should avoid this book: Parsons can’t get himself going on this one. Even a semblance of plot doesn’t begin until you’re sixty pages into the book, and from there, it doesn’t get much better. Parsons unleashes page after page of sentimental, repetitive crap, which surfaced occasionally in Man and Boy; but this time around it makes up the entire contents of the book. Determined, perhaps, to get even a cheap reaction out of the reader, Parsons is unable to finish off a chapter or even a break without a forced clich&#233 like, ‘I wondered if my mum and Pat would ever see each other again.’ As a character, Harry is immensely unlikable, suspiciously hounding his wife while trying to start an affair of his own. The ‘plot’ of this book so closely follows its predecessor that reading Man and Wife is disappointingly redundant, and wildly frustrating due to an only occasional glimpse of good writing.

Opening paragraph:

My son comes to my wedding.
He’s my best man. That’s what I tell him ‘You’re my best man, Pat.’ He looks pleased. He has never seen a best man before. Not that he makes a smirking speech about what I got up to with sheep during my wild youth, or tries to get off with the bridesmaid, or even gets to look after the rings. He’s only six years old.


My mother slept with the lights on.
In the house where she had spent most of her married life, where she was a young wife and mother, the house that had been her home for so long, she attempted to sleep at night with all her bedroom lights blazing.

We walked over to the small caf&#233 by the tennis courts, moving against the scuttling tide of office workers. As we ordered our drinks, I could picture myself in her flat in Primrose Hill, see her pulling off her boots and stepping out of her Burberry kilt. I could see it, and it felt like the best thing in the world. It was that old, dangerous feeling of something about to start.
‘How’s Pat?’ she asked, and I adored her for that. I would have adored anyone who cared enough to ask me about my boy.

Instead, try: About a Boy by Nick Hornby; Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About by Mil Millington.

Also by this author: Stories We Could Tell; One for My Baby; Man and Boy; Big Mouth Strikes Again: A Further Collection of Two Fisted Journalism.

Author’s website:

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

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